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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 15:05 EDT

Anti-Cancer Compound Found in Beans, Nuts, Cereals

September 14, 2005

LONDON — Eating a diet rich in beans, nuts and cereals could help to prevent cancer because the foods contain a natural compound that inhibits the growth of tumors.

Scientists at University College London (UCL) said on Thursday that the substance called inositol pentakisphosphate, which is also found in lentils and peas, could also help researchers develop new therapies against the disease.

“Our study suggests the importance of a diet enriched in foods such as beans, nuts and cereals which could help prevent cancer,” said Dr Marco Falasca, of UCL’s Sackler Institute, who reported the finding in the journal Cancer Research.

He and his team discovered that the compound inhibits an enzyme called phosphoinositde 3-kinase which promotes tumour growth.

Scientists have been trying to develop drugs to inhibit the cancer-promoting enzyme but have had difficulty so far.

When the researchers tested inositol pentakisphosphate in mice and cancer cells in the laboratory, it killed the animal tumors and enhanced the effect of drugs used against ovarian and lung cancer cells.

“Our work will now focus on establishing whether the phosphate inhibitor can be developed into an anti-cancer agent for human therapy,” Falasca said in a statement.

The researchers believe the compound, which was non-toxic even at high concentrations, could also be used to increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.