A recent study claims that slightly unripe bananas can help to reduce the risk of cancer in people with a family history of the disease.
Many Britons enjoy this potassium-rich fruit as part of a healthy breakfast, as a snack or simply to get a boost of energy during the day.
The 20-year study has discovered that the starch present in unripe or slightly green bananas can reduce the risk of some cancers by more than 60%.
Scientists at Newcastle and Leeds Universities reportedly studied around 1,000 people with Lynch syndrome which is a genetic condition that increases the risk of certain cancers, including bowel, ovary, womb, stomach, and pancreatic.
The scientists’ findings which are published in Cancer Prevention Research highlight that a daily dose of a resistant starch supplement, equivalent of one slightly green banana over a period of two years can reduce come cancers by up to two thirds, the Mirror informs.
Also, according to scientists, though it does not affect cancers in the bowel, starch which is found in cereal, beans, oats, and slightly green bananas can reduce cancers in the body by more than half.
Professor John Mathers of Newcastle University is reported to have said, “We found resistant starch reduces a range of cancers by over 60 per cent.
“The effect was most obvious in the upper part of the gut.”
According to the study, the starch supplement was particularly effective in reducing gastric, pancreatic, biliary tract, oesophageal, and duodenum (small intestine) cancers.
Professor Mathers explains, “This is important as cancers of the upper GI tract are difficult to diagnose and often are not caught early on.
“The dose used in the trial is equivalent to eating a daily banana: before they become too ripe and soft, the starch in bananas resists breakdown and reaches the bowel where it can change the type of bacteria that live there.”
Ripe or yellow bananas contain lesser resistant starch than slightly green bananas because the starch is converted to sugar during ripening.
An earlier report in Times Now informs that resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that does not get digested in the small intestine unlike most carbohydrates but instead, it ferments in the large intestine and feeds healthy gut bacteria.
Scientists are of the opinion that since digestive bacteria play an important role in maintaining overall health, it is vital to feed and keep them healthy.
Professor Mathers adds that experts think that resistant starch may reduce the development of cancer by reducing the quantity of bile acids in the gut that damages DNA and eventually causes cancer.
In addition, scientists have noticed the remarkable effect of a reduction in cancers even 10 years after stopping the resistant starch supplement.
However, they hope that the resistant starch findings are beneficial to the general population, and not just for those with Lynch syndrome.
Earlier, research published as part of the same long-term trial also revealed that aspirin reduces the risk of cancer of the large bowel by 50%.
“When we started the studies over 20 years ago, we thought that people with a genetic predisposition to colon cancer could help us to test whether we could reduce the risk of cancer with either aspirin or resistant starch, said professor Sir John Burn, from Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
He adds, “Patients with Lynch syndrome are high risk as they are more likely to develop cancers so finding that aspirin can reduce the risk of large bowel cancers and resistant starch other cancers by half is vitally important.
“Based on our trial, NICE now recommend aspirin for people at high genetic risk of cancer, the benefits are clear – aspirin and resistant starch work.”
NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.