London: A new study suggests that eating a diet rich in beans, nuts and cereals may help prevent cancer because these foods contain an natural compound that inhibits the growth of cancerous tumors.
Scientists at University College London (UCL) said that the substance called inositol pentakisphosphate, which is also found in lentils and peas, could also help researchers develop new therapies against the disease.
Foods particularly rich in the compound include cashews and peanuts and beans such as kidney, pinto and navy beans, the pulse commonly used in baked beans. Beans and nuts that have been cooked are a better source because the heating process generates more InsP5 as it breaks down other compounds.
Marco Falasca, of the UCL Sackler Institute, said the discovery was particularly exciting because InsP5 was a natural compound that, unlike most anti-cancer agents, was not toxic even if used in large quantities.
This compound is potentially very interesting as a prevention against cancer, Dr Falasco said. Our study suggests the importance of a diet enriched in food such as beans, nuts and cereals which could help prevent cancer.
In the current study, the scientists proved the anti-cancer properties of inositol pentakisphosphate in mice and cancer cells in the laboratory.
It was found that this compound killed tumor cells and boosted the effect of drugs used against cancer cells such as ovarian and lung cancer cells.