February 04, 2009
Beans Cut Cancer Mammary Risk In Lab Rats

Lab rats are chewing on beans to cut their mammary cancer risks.

Madison, WI, February 2, 2009 - As the world seeks new ways to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, more research continues to be conducted on the benefits of certain foods in reducing people’s risk of contracting these ailments. Legumes in particular are often cited as being high in antioxidants, which have the property of being able to fight off free radical cells within the body, reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. A recent study further investigated these connections, as researchers focused on the benefits of one type of legume, dry beans, in reducing the risk of mammary cancer.

To address whether dry bean consumption is associated with a reduction in mammary cancer, scientists at Colorado State University studied the anticancer activity of six market classes of bean including; small red, great northern, navy, black, dark red and white kidney bean in the diet of laboratory animals. They also evaluated whether the level of antioxidants or seed coat pigments in the bean were related to mammary cancer. The study was funded by a grant from the Beans for Health Alliance, and the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station with assistance from Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bush Brothers Inc. Results from the study were published in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Crop Science.

More darkly colored beans score higher in various measures of antioxidant activity.

Cooked dry bean powder from the six market classes and a control group without beans in the diet were fed to laboratory rats in a standard preclinical model for breast cancer. The dry bean powders were also evaluated for antioxidant capacity, phenolic and flavonoid content; all factors thought to be associated with anticancer activity. Chemical analysis of the beans revealed that total phenolic and flavonoid content varied widely among market classes and the differences were strongly associated with seed coat color; where colored beans had ten times or greater phenolic and flavonoid content compared to white beans. Antioxidant capacity of the beans also varied widely among dry bean market classes and were highly related to seed coat color, where colored beans had approximately two to three times greater antioxidant capacity than white beans.

But the lighter beans were just as effective at cutting cancer incidence as the darker beans that contain more antioxidants. Go figure.

Dry bean consumption from every market class reduced cancer incidence (number of animals with one tumor) and tumor number per animal compared to the control group. Cancer incidence was reduced from 95% in the control group to 67% in animals fed beans. The average number of malignant tumors was also reduced from 3.2 in the control group to 1.4 tumors per animal in the group fed bean. No associations were observed between phenolic content, flavonoid content and antioxidant capacity with cancer among the bean market classes. These results clearly suggest that the anticancer activity in dry bean is not associated with seed color or antioxidant capacity.

So what about beans delivered the anti-cancer benefit? Does a fiber in the beans cut cancer risks somehow?

For added anti-cancer protection take vitamin D with your beans.

Calcitrol, the active form of vitamin D, has been found to induce a tumor suppressing protein that can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, according to a study by researcher Sylvia Chistakos, Ph.D., of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.

Chistakos, a professor of biochemistry, has published extensively on the multiple roles of vitamin D, including inhibition of the growth of malignant cells found in breast cancer. Her current findings on the vitamin D induced protein that inhibits breast cancer growth are published in a recent issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Previous research had determined that increased serum levels of vitamin D are associated with an improved diagnosis in patients with breast cancer. Prior to the current study, little was known about the factors that determine the effect of calcitrol on inhibiting breast cancer growth, she said.

The vitamin D might make you stronger too. Though maybe people who get outside more get more exercise and get exposed to more sun which raises blood vitamin D levels.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 February 04 11:45 PM  Aging Diet Cancer Studies

momochan said at February 11, 2009 1:37 PM:

Cooking beans at home is time consuming, but the cost cannot be beat. For the most digestible beans, use copious quantities of water when soaking and cooking. I drain off the cooking water after about 20-30 minutes on the stove, and then replace with fresh water, in order to minimize sugars. Of course doing so drains off micronutrients, but according to this research, they may not matter that much anyway -- at least from a cancer prevention standpoint.

Randall Parker said at February 11, 2009 8:59 PM:


I put beans (kidney beans, small red beans, pinto beans, white beans, others) into a slow cooker and let them cook slowly for a day or two.

How long do you do your entire cooking?

allwerasking said at February 15, 2009 8:59 AM:

So, it has to be dry? Canned beans won't work?
I use dry, but it seems odd that the drying process would make a difference.

Ronald Smythe said at October 8, 2009 11:57 PM:

You need to boil the beans and drain to remove toxins. Using a slow cooker won't do it.

Randall Parker said at October 10, 2009 10:08 AM:

Ronald Smythe,

Can you point me to web pages about beans really having toxins in them?

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