Colorectal cancer which affects the large intestine, including the colon and the rectum is the third most common cancer in the world.
Colorectal cancer is highly treatable and in some cases even curable when caught early enough.
However, colorectal cancer does not always show symptoms at an early stage. Only about three to four out of 10 (35.5%) of colorectal cancers are diagnosed at its earliest stage, where the disease is localized.
If treatment is successful for colorectal cancer, recent research shows that despite improvements in treatment between 7% and 29% of people may have a recurrence of the condition within five years of treatment, depending on site and stage.
Although it is not possible to fully prevent colorectal cancer, past studies show regular physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, and making certain nutrition choices can help.
While other dry beans, peas, and lentils have nutritional profiles that are also likely to stimulate the gut microbiome, Dr. Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, associate professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and lead author of this study said in an interview she was particularly inspired by promising findings in early preclinical or mouse model studies specifically testing the effect of navy beans on the combination of obesity, inflammation, and colorectal cancer.
“These studies, including my own, were also inspired by the Polyp Prevention Trial (PPT),” Dr. Daniel-MacDougall said.
“At the time of the PPT, pinto, navy, and black beans were the most commonly consumed beans and varied in popularity by U.S. region. Here in Texas, I knew navy beans would also be ‘new’ to participants and have a mild/adaptable taste, making them well-suited to test in a controlled and consistent manner over eight weeks,” she added.
Dr. Daniel-MacDougall said it is important for colorectal cancer survivors to have a balanced gut microbiome because it directly interacts with the colon epithelium where colorectal cancer develops.
“This ‘cross-talk’ between human cells and microbes is tightly linked to the immune system that can either prevent or drive inflammation, as well as the development and progression of cancer,” she continued.
“Having made it through the difficult journey of cancer, survivors certainly want to avoid other major and debilitating health issues,” Dr. Daniel-MacDougall added.