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How Phytic Acid Fights Cancer

Phytic acid, a compound in legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, may play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
April 14, 2014

Legumes, grains, and other foods high in phytic acid can help prevent cancer. Research suggests that this nutrient may also help people who are undergoing treatment. 

People who eat a lot of dried beans and whole grains are less likely to develop colon cancer, for example. For a long time, we assumed that this was due to the fiber in these foods. But then, researchers noticed that some high-fiber diets seemed to be more protective than other high-fiber diets.

Specifically, people who get a lot of their fiber from dried beans have lower rates of colon cancer than those who get the same amount of fiber from other sources. The additional benefit may be due to phytic acid.

In addition to reducing your risk of getting cancer, phytic acid may also be useful in the treatment of cancer.  It's been found to have anti-cancer activity against many different types of cancer cells, both in petri dishes and in animal studies. In humans, a recent study of women being treated for breast cancer found that taking relatively large amounts of IP-6 (which is another name for phytic acid) reduced side effects of chemotherapy and improved their quality of life.

IP-6 is not a miracle cancer cure and I advise you to steer clear of anyone who tries to sell it to you as such. However, it’s clear that phytic acid does a lot more than just get in the way of mineral absorption.

See also: Does Phytic Acid Cause Bone Loss?

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