Dry beans effective in reducing breast cancer risk

February 5th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) Rich in antioxidants, legumes have the capacity to combat free radicals within the body, potentially cutting down risks of breast cancer and other chronic diseases. Accordingly, Colorado State University researchers focused recently on a particular type of legume, dry beans, in reducing the risk of breast cancer. They studied the anti-cancer activity of six kinds of such beans in the diet of lab animals.

The researchers also evaluated whether the level of antioxidants or seed coat pigments in the bean were related to mammary cancer. Cooked dry bean powder and a control group without beans were fed to lab 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 anti-cancer activity.

Chemical analysis revealed that total phenolic and flavonoid content varied widely among these kinds, the differences being strongly associated with seed coat colour. Coloured beans had 10 times or greater phenolic and flavonoid content compared to white beans.

Antioxidant capacity also varied widely among dry bean market classes and were highly related to seed coat colour, where coloured ones had approximately two to three times greater antioxidant capacity than white beans.

Dry bean consumption reduced cancer incidence (number of animals with a tumour) and tumour number per animal compared to the control group, said a Colorado release.

Cancer incidence was reduced from 95 percent in the control group to 67 percent in animals fed beans. The average number of malignant tumours was also reduced from 3.2 in the control group to 1.4 tumours per animal in the group fed bean.

These results were published in the February issue of Crop Science.

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