|Rice Utilization and
Project Leader and Principal Investigators
Wallace H. Yokoyama,USDA Western Regional Research Center, Albany, CA
Food scientists at UC Davis and the USDA Western Regional Research Center in
Albany continued work on a study begun last year to examine the
cancer-fighting properties of rice bran.
Rice bran contains a substance called phytate (phytic acid) that binds minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. Calcium is known to have a positive benefit in preventing colon cancer. Phytate can also cause animals to lose weight. Thus, scientists have designed an experiment with rats to determine whether a diet containing rice bran treated with phytase, an enzyme that helps break down phytate, could help reduce the incidence of colon cancer.
In the experiment rats were fed stabilized full-fat rice bran, defatted rice bran and phytase-treated, full-fat rice bran for three months. Compared to a control group, the rats on full-fat rice bran had the highest body weight. The rats on the defatted and phytase-treated, full-fat rice bran were similar in weight to the control. Colon and other tissues were removed for histological examination but results have not yet been reported.
USDA food scientists are also working with researchers in Egypt to identify and isolate microbial phytases that can convert phytate to derivatives thought to be beneficial to humans. An Egyptian laboratory will test phytases from soil microorganisms, while Albany scientists will identify derivatives from microbial fermentation.