A new study hopes to show that rice bran offers "promising" cancer prevention properties. A clinical trial is currently testing rice bran's effectiveness in preventing the recurrence of colon cancer.
"While I have been trained as a molecular toxicologist, I am excited about the opportunities to deliver bioactive, cancer fighting compounds with food, and this has led to my focus now primarily on the multiple drug-like characteristics of rice bran," said Elizabeth Ryan, senior author of the study, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, and a University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator. "There's a delicate balance of bioactive components in rice bran that together show anti-cancer activity including the ability to inhibit cell proliferation, alter cell cycle progression and initiate the programmed cell death known as apoptosis in malignant cells.
Research with cancer cell lines in animals has now shown that the bioactive components of rice bran work together to promote the function of healthy cells, while also inhibiting the function of cancer cells. Ryan and her colleagues are now evaluating how rice bran may promote an anti-cancer immune response or modulate gut bacteria to protect against cancer.
"We're working now to tease apart the ratios of these active molecules required for bioactivity and mechanisms," said Ryan. "Previous attempts to isolate one or another compound have been largely unsuccessful and so it looks now as if rather than any one compound giving rice bran its chemopreventive powers, it's the synergistic activity of multiple components in the whole food that should be studied."
"There are well over 100,000 varieties of rice in the world, many with their own unique mix of bioactive components and so one major challenge is to discover the optimal composition for chemoprevention. Another challenge is ensuring that people consistently receive the required daily intake amount or 'dose' needed to demonstrate these chemo-protective effects. That said, rice is an accessible, low-cost food in most places of the world, and so work with rice bran as a dietary chemopreventive agent has the potential to impact a significant portion of the world's population."