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PVH and CSU researchers study how rice bran or beans may prevent colorectal cancer with help of community volunteers

Media contact: Dave Rizzotto | 970.237.7105 |

PVH and CSU researchers study how rice bran or beans may prevent colorectal cancer with help of community volunteers    
Dietary study will be presented at the world’s premier oncology conference.
BENEFIT study team presenting at American Society of Clinical Oncology (from lf to rt) Poudre Valley Hospital's Robert Marschke, Erica Dickson and Regina Brown with Colorado State University's Erica Borresen and Elizabeth Ryan.
Brochure of Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating for Intestinal Health Trial

Poudre Valley Hospital and Colorado State University have partnered to study the role of rice bran or navy beans for prevention and control of colorectal cancer. Findings from this local research could have global impact.

The study is titled Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating for Intestinal Health Trial (BENEFIT). Researchers believe that components from beans and rice bran, such as the unique fibers, protein and phytochemicals, work together for cancer fighting properties.

BENEFIT builds on previous research from animal studies, and these foods are prepared into meals and snacks to evaluate their efficacy in people. 38 people from northern Colorado, including colorectal cancer survivors and people who have not had cancer, have participated in the study.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

BENEFIT’s core team includes faculty, physicians, and researchers from PVH and CSU. Elizabeth Ryan, assistant professor of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at CSU, and Regina Brown, medical oncologist with PVH Cancer Care and Hematology, conceived the study together over a series of meetings beginning five years ago.

BENEFIT draws on the scientific and medical expertise of both CSU and PVH to bring novel research from the laboratory to the community. CSU researchers brought knowledge about plant food and gut microbial interactions for disease prevention, and PVH clinicians supported the translation of this research into the clinical setting.

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) selected this research to be presented this June at the world’s largest annual cancer conference in Chicago.

 “What’s significant about rice bran and dry beans are that these foods are available to feed people around the world and in quantities that could lower the incidence of colon cancer,” said Ryan. Rice bran is the brown covering that is stripped to make white rice grains. It is considered the most nutritional part of the rice.  The bran has commonly been discarded or fed to livestock, because it is rich in fats that can go rancid.  However, rice brand can now be heat stabilized immediately after its removed from the grain, making it good for humans to eat, according to Ryan.

“The focus in cancer research up to this point has been the next drug.” said Brown. “In the fight against cancer we have neglected food as medicine. We know it plays a role but it’s only recently that the medical community has recognized its impact.”

Many patients ask if diet can help them prevent or recover from cancer, according to Brown. “Nutrition is empowering,” said Brown. “Patients are looking to play an active role in their treatment. Knowing what to eat and what not to helps them in their journey.”

Mary Scovel, a uterine and colon cancer survivor, participated in the study. “Many people think they have to go elsewhere for great care and access,” said Scovel, a resident of Fort Collins. “We have it right here.”

After being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007 Scovel wanted to know the cause. “This trial helped me understand that foods need to be studied for preventing cancer,” said Scovel, a patient of Brown’s. She also saw this research as an opportunity to give back to the greater good. “Some people think cancer will never come back, but it does,” said Scovel, referring to the diet’s potential to lower reoccurrence rates. Eleanor VanDeusen, who has not had cancer, enrolled with Scovel, her mother-in-law. She was also motivated to further the research about nutrition and cancer.

“When we eat, we are feeding microbial communities in our body that assist us to process toxins and compounds that may cause or trigger disease,” said Ryan. Ryan described the gut microbes as an ecosystem of bugs in our body, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.

“Clinical research is at the heart of what is advancing cancer care,” said Robert F. Marschke, Jr., MD, Medical Director for Oncology Research with PVH. “BENEFIT is an excellent example of how a community program can partner with an academic institution to bring meaningful research to the community, as well as contributing that data in order to have a national and global impact.”

Learn more about PVH’s cancer research program at

Learn more about the BENEFIT study by calling 970.491.2100.

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