Nutrition is a hot topic in the world of cancer research and cancer survivorship, and rightly so! What we put into our bodies greatly affects our overall health and wellness. In terms of cancer, many studies show that eating a diet low in red meat and high in fruits and vegetables could lower the risk of developing cancer and also lower the risk of cancer recurrence. Also, some patients and survivors are even able to manage some side effects of colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment with diet and nutrition.

Check out a webinar from April 2017 about Side Effect Management and Nutrition!

The Research of What We Eat

Diet and colorectal cancer prevention is a topic that is studied often – just check out our Food that Made Headlines blog from June 2016!

More recently, an abstract was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) in April 2017 that focused on rice bran and beans for colorectal cancer prevention.

The conclusion?

There’s a chance that eating these foods might reduce CRC risk.

BENEFIT Pilot Study

The pilot study, carried out by Colorado State University Fort Collins, was part of the Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating for Intestinal Health (BENEFIT) trials. BENEFIT is a larger trial with the goal of increasing community knowledge about how the foods we eat affect our gut health (aka, our microbiome).

Nearly 30 CRC survivors participated in the 4-week pilot study. Some were randomly selected to receive a dietary intervention that added rice bran (30g) and navy bean powder (35g) to meals and snacks throughout the day. The rest of the group did not receive the intervention, meaning they did not receive the rice bran or bean powder. These particular food additives were selected because they have a very, very high dietary fiber content in addition to phytochemicals. (Phytochemicals, which are compounds found in plants, have been studied in colon cancer prevention in human and animal epidemiological studies.)

To measure if there were any benefits to the dietary intervention, participants had their fasting blood, urine and stool collected

  • before the intervention began
  • at two weeks
  • at four weeks

At the end of the study, there appeared to be significant increases in the types of bacteria (specifically: Methanobrevibacter, Paraprevotella, Ruminococcus, and Bifidobacterium) in the stool microbiome of participants who received the rice bran and navy bean powder.

In addition, the growth of CRC cells seemed to have gone down in stool samples at 4-weeks.

Not enough to eat a bowl of rice and beans once a week

Researchers on this study were clear to note that using diet to support colon health is more than just one cup of chili per week. Rather the best approach may be to treat diet truly as medicine by eating what is good for your body every day, in an amount that has been proven to be beneficial.

Too soon to chow down on rice and beans?

This pilot study did present challenges. The sample size was small and the study duration, short. The results, however, do warrant further investigation of rice bran and navy bean powder among a larger group of people for a longer time.

Until then, continue to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. After all, guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research strongly state that people who eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like rice) and legumes (like beans) are reducing their cancer risk.

More Information

For more information on nutrition and other topics impacting colorectal cancer patients, visit our Resource Library.


American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2017 Annual Meeting. Abstract CT138/19, presented April 4, 2017.

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