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Consuming Resistant Starch May Help Reduce Red Meat-Related Colorectal Cancer Risk: Study

Update Date: Aug 04, 2014 12:58 PM EDT

Eating a type of starch that acts like fiber may help reduce colorectal cancer risk associated with a high red meat diet, according to a new research. 

"Red meat and resistant starch have opposite effects on the colorectal cancer-promoting miRNAs, the miR-17-92 cluster," said Karen J. Humphreys, PhD, a research associate at the Flinders Center for Innovation in Cancer at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, in the press release. "This finding supports consumption of resistant starch as a means of reducing the risk associated with a high red meat diet."

"Total meat consumption in the USA, European Union, and the developed world has continued to increase from the 1960s, and in some cases has nearly doubled," added Humphreys.

The resistant starch, unlike most starches, manages to escape digestion in the stomach and small intestine, and passes through to the colon where it has similar properties to fiber. It is then readily fermented by gut microbes to produce beneficial molecules called short-chain fatty acids, i.e., butyrate. 

"Good examples of natural sources of resistant starch include bananas that are still slightly green, cooked and cooled potatoes [such as potato salad], whole grains, beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Scientists have also been working to modify grains such as maize so they contain higher levels of resistant starch," added Humphreys in the press release. 

The study found that eating 300 grams of lean red meat per day for four weeks, study participants had a 30 percent increase in the levels of certain genetic molecules called miR-17-92 in their rectal tissue. 

The study is published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

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