BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in:  Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Monday, 19 April, 1999, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
Broad beans protect against cancer
Broad beans
Broad beans contain lectin, a substance which can fight cancer
The humble broad bean might help to prevent bowel cancer - the second most common cause of deaths from cancer in the UK, scientists have claimed.

Researchers from Hammersmith Hospital and the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London, assessed the effects of dietary lectins on the behaviour of cancer cells in the colon.

Lectins are proteins found in many plant foods, including broad beans.

They attach themselves to carbohydrate molecules, which are then absorbed by the cells lining the bowel during digestion.

The findings, published in the medical journal Gut, showed that broad bean and mushroom lectins were able to halt or even reverse the cancer process.

A normal healthy cell is said to be well differentiated, meaning that its characteristic features and structures are intact, enabling it to function properly.

Loss of differentiation is a hallmark of cancer cells.

Cancer halted

The broad bean and mushroom lectins were able to increase the differentiation of cancer cells, indicating that the cancer process was either being halted or reversed.

The lectins also seemed to inhibit cell multiplication, another hallmark of cancer cells.

The way in which lectins attach themselves to the carbohydrate molecules may be particularly important in the development of cancer, say the authors, because these molecules are very active in the processes that turn on and switch off cell growth.

It is the mis-firing of this process that is believed to cause cancer.

Lead researcher Professor John Calam said: "It is well known that diets high in fruits and vegetables protect against many types of cancer, including bowel cancer.

"The lectin effect may be one of the reasons why."

See also:

16 Feb 99 | Health
Cancer experts back fibre
26 Feb 99 | Health
Stomach bug link to bowel problem
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories