CSIRO developing Resistant starch with aim to tackle bowel cancer in Australia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th April 2012

Scientists atAustralia’s most respected scientific body, CSIRO, hope to increase the levels of resistant starch in commonly consumed grains inAustralialike wheat in order to lower incidence rates of bowel cancer inAustralia.

 The CSIRO project is based on recent research showing that not all fibre is equally effective health-wise. This finding was reported by Australian Food News in February 2012, there are different types of fibre in foods.

 Western diets are typically low in fibre and have been linked with a higher incidence of bowel cancer. However, even though Australians eat more dietary fibre than many other western countries, bowel cancer is still the second most commonly reported cancer inAustraliawith 30 new cases diagnosed every day.

 Dr David Topping, from CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship, said this is referred to as ‘the Australian paradox’.

 “We have been trying to find out why Australians aren’t showing a reduction in bowel cancer rates and we think the answer is that we don’t eat enough resistant starch, which is one of the major components of dietary fibre,” Dr Topping said.

 These findings were published in the latest issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

 A team of experts from CSIRO studied various sources of resistant starch, including corn and wheat, and the results suggest they could all protect against DNA damage in the colon, which is what can cause cancer.

 Resistant starch is a component of dietary fibre that resists digestion in the small intestine and instead passes through to the bowel where it has positive effects on bowel health. It is found in legumes, some wholegrain breads and cereals, firm bananas and cooked and cooled potatoes, pasta and rice.

 Dr Trevor Lockett, colorectal cancer researcher with CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship, said it takes about 15 years from the time of the first bowel cancer-initiating DNA damage to the development of full-blown bowel cancer, so “the earlier we improve our diets the better”.

 According to CSIRO, the recommended intake of resistant starch is around 20 grams a day, which is almost four times greater than a typical western diet provides. Twenty grams is equivalent to eating three cups of cooked lentils.

 “Currently, it is difficult for Australians to get this much from a typical diet,” Dr Topping said. “We have already had success in developing barley with high levels of resistant starch, and now our focus is on increasing the levels of resistant starch in commonly consumed grains like wheat. 

 “These grains could then be used in breads and cereals to make it easier for Australians to get enough resistant starch from their diet.”