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Breakfast Cereal Lowers Lab Rats' Cancer Risk / August 24, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Breakfast Cereal Lowers Lab Rats' Cancer Risk

By Marcia Wood
August 24, 1998

Wheat bran heated and shaped into short, crispy strips for a commercial breakfast cereal was more effective than raw wheat bran in reducing an indicator of colon cancer in laboratory rats, a new study shows. Bran is the thin, fiber-rich outer layer of the wheat kernel.

Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service and the University of California at Davis conducted the 6-1/2 month study. It apparently is the first to show that processing may improve wheat bran's effectiveness in reducing the occurrence of aberrant crypt foci, or ACF, that are an indicator of colon cancer in rats.

Wallace H. Yokoyama with ARS' Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., and Paul A. Davis of the UC Davis School of Medicine conducted the study. Davis reported the findings yesterday, Aug. 23, at a Boston meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The scientists fed 120 white lab rats a diet that included either processed or raw wheat bran. Those fed processed wheat bran had 33 percent fewer aberrant crypt foci in their colons than rats fed raw wheat bran. The animals had been injected with a chemical that stimulates formation of ACF. Scientists have known for more than a decade that feeding raw wheat bran to lab animals reduces the occurrence of ACF.

For the study, the processed bran was heated and shaped in a food-processing machine known as an extruder.

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., killing nearly 55,000 Americans every year.

Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., funded part of the study.

Scientific contact: Wallace H. Yokoyama, Ph.D., ARS Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710, phone (510) 559-5695, fax (510) 559-5777, e-mail wally@pw.usda.gov. Yokoyama and Davis are currently attending the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston and may be contacted through the American Chemical Society press center there, phone (617) 351-6808.

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