Scientists at University College London have found that beans, nuts and cereals contain a potent anti-cancer compound which blocks a key enzyme involved in tumour growth. The natural compound is inositol pentakisphosphate. They found the compound not only blocked tumour growth, but also enhanced the effect of other cancer killing drugs and is also non-toxic, unlike conventional chemotherapy agents.
Dr Falasca said: "Our study suggests the importance of a diet enriched in foods such as beans, nuts and cereals which could help prevent cancer."
Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK said: "It is always encouraging when a newly discovered chemical is shown to have anti-cancer activity in the laboratory, especially when it occurs naturally in foods like beans and peas. Obviously, the next step is to look at whether inositol pentakisphosphate is able to inhibit tumour growth in cancer patients, in properly controlled clinical trials."
He said researchers were also looking at whether people who eat more lentils, peas and beans are actually at lower risk of developing cancers
"What we do know already is that a diet that includes at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help to reduce the risk of cancer."