If you are worrying about cancer, including beans in meal planning could go a long way to ease your mind. Research has shown that beans and other legumes work in many ways to stop cancer while providing plenty of other health benefits.
Beans belong to the legume group of vegetables, which includes lentils and pulses. Most of the health benefits to be gotten from eating beans extends to the entire group.
The link between eating beans and lowered risk of cancer was established several years ago. In a broad-reaching study using data from 41 countries, researchers found that eating beans reduced incidence of death from breast, prostate, and colon cancer. As the years have gone by, more and more studies have linked bean eating with reduced risk for many other types of cancer. Here is why you should be eating more beans.
1. Eating Beans Stops Breast Cancer
Recent data from the Nurses Health Study II, among the largest and longest running investigations of factors influencing women’s health, was evaluated to see which flavonol-rich foods were protective of breast tissue in premenopausal women age 26 to 46. Researchers found that among the major food groups tested, beans and lentils were most protective, while tea, onions, apples, string beans, broccoli, green pepper and blueberries showed no ability to provide protection.
Another study, the 4 Corners Breast Cancer Study was unique in having Hispanics, Native Americans, and non-Hispanic white women as participants. Scientists found a relationship between consumption of beans and a reduction in breast cancer risk in Hispanic women consuming a native Mexican diet characterized by high bean and other legume intake. These women showed a breast cancer risk only two-thirds that of non-Hispanic whites eating the typical American diet high in processed foods, red meat and sugar.
Beans and other legumes are a food staple in many regions of the world, where they are consumed quite frequently and in large quantities to provide low glycemic energy, protein and fiber. Almost across the board, incidence of breast cancer is significantly lower in these regions.
2. Men can Benefit from Frequent Bean Eating Too
Lifestyle factors play a role in a diagnosis of prostate cancer, just as they do in a diagnosis of breast cancer. French researchers assessed the association of fiber and prostate cancer in 3313 men followed for a median time of 12.6 years, during which 139 developed prostate cancer.
When the researchers compared men in the highest quartile of consumption of dietary fiber, such as found in beans and other legumes, to consumption of men in the lowest quartile, they discovered that risk of prostate cancer was cut almost in half in those eating the most beans and other legumes. However, no association between lower prostate cancer risk and consumption of cereal, vegetable and fruit fiber was observed. Study authors suggested the mechanism of action was reduction of inflammation.
Read: 3 Studies Linking Beans to Cancer Prevention
3-5. Beans Stop Renal, Gastric, and Colon Cancer
Plant-based fiber-rich foods such as beans and legumes have a positive effect on renal (kidney) carcinoma and the chronic conditions associated with it, according to recent research. Significantly lowered risk of renal cell carcinoma was observed in those eating beans and other high fiber foods.
What’s more, people eating dried beans, other legumes, and bean soup show a significantly reduced risk of colon cancer. Data from the Polyp Prevention Trial indicated that eating more beans provides strong protection against recurrence of colon polyps.
Women who ate four or more servings of beans and other legumes weekly had their risk of colon cancer lowered by one-third, in a study with 35,000 participants. A related study found that people who once had colon cancer were able to reduce their risk of recurrence by 45 percent by frequent bean eating.
There’s a Secret at Work in These Studies
What’s the secret that lets beans turn out results like these? It’s called inositol hexaphosphate, or IP6 for short, and it’s a powerful cancer fighting compound found in abundance in beans. Another feature of beans known as inositol pentakisphosphate (IP10) is so powerful that was found to inhibit the growth of tumors in mice all by itself!
Beans Top the List in Antioxidants
Beans and all the legumes are anti-aging superstars because of their high antioxidant levels. Pinto, kidney, and red beans fill three of the four top slots for overall best antioxidant protection, beating out other fruits and vegetables, according to the Department of Agriculture. If they had rated black beans, they surely would have taken the fourth slot.
Why these particular beans? As it is throughout the plant world, color is key. The darker and more intense the color, the greater the antioxidant protection to be had by those eating them.
Beans are a terrific protein source as well; just add some cheese to make a complete protein. Beans are super versatile, and a pound of organic beans can be bought for just over a dollar. What could be better?
4 thoughts on “How Eating Certain Beans Cuts the Risk of These 5 Cancers”
Nice article to motivate people toward better preventative eating; however, the bad advice in the last paragraph trumps the value of the entire article. Animal foods and the “whites” (white sugar, white flour, white rice, etc.) are the absolute worst food choices we can make and will feed cancer cell growth better than any other food choices. This article does not direct the reader to the correct method and reason for pairing legumes with other protein sources – in this case cheese. First of all, there is no question that abundant daily consumption of beans is a fabulous dietary change goal to prevent AND treat a variety of diseases including cancers, but any longterm commitment to daily legumes, without taking into consideration the amino acid shortfall that legumes cause if used as one’s primary source of protein, is a guaranteed unhealthy mistake. Many vegetarian mother’s-to-be, who ignore this issue – the “incomplete protein” of legumes, go on to birth developmentally delayed, small birth weight, and immune compromised babies who fail to thrive, learn, grow, form properly in terms of skeletal-musculature, and do not develop normally due to the one fact of being marginally or outright PROTEIN DEFICIENT. In developing countries, where “high quality” (complete amino acid) protein is not consistently available, the medical term is: kwashiokor. The point of me stepping up to write this is that animal products added to one’s daily beans, will provide the missing amino acids (complete the incomplete protein in beans) but will also be bringing into the body, known cancer-causing (and cardiovascular disease causing) metabolic byproducts even if Certified Organic Grass Animal products are the ones chosen. Animal foods need to be restricted when anti-cancer is the focus. That leaves open the question of how to make legumes satisfy our need for complete protein which is required for cell maintenance, immune function, growth, and disease prevention….? The answer is seeds and nuts need to be consumed AT THE SAME TIMES as the legumes. There are many options for both legume and seed and nut “formulas” which one can cultivate in the anti-cancer kitchen, and a great starting point for this self-education would be to consult the original bible on this subject: Diet For A Small Planet which explains the rationale behind plant-based eating for both our health and the health of the planet, and the sequel: Recipes For A Small Planet, where Frances Moore Lappe gives many recipes which feature the amounts of which legumes-nuts-seeds need to be paired in order to obtain the goal of “complete protein” that means thriving, not just surviving. Properly combined amino acid sources from plants can replace animal food consumption while maintaining the body, growing babies, repairing disease, and learning — all are physical activities which the Human Animal requires in order to eliminate animal food dependence.
Ariel, you are SO VERY right about the 2 books, “Diet for a Small Planet” and “Recipes for a Small Planet” each by Frances Moore Lappe. I read them back in the later 70’s when attending undergraduate school, and they had been monumental in my very early understanding of nutrition as well as conservation on our precious planet! Cheers!!!
very good, thank you. I agree with you, and it is not only protein, and aminos, is vitamin B12 and other enzymes and phytonutrients that you only can find in animal foods.
I cook the beans with lots of water or broth _ 1/2 tsp. of baking soda (no gas) and some veggies.