Lectins, simple proteins found in food that can bind to specific carbohydrates, can alter the differentiation of colonic cells. Lectins, however, do not digest well. The ability of cells to differentiate is regulated by adhesion molecules on the cells, which can be bound by the lectins.
The goal of the present study was to evaluate the influence of lectins on differentiation, adhesion and proliferation of various lines of colorectal cancer cells. Extensive laboratory testing was done using Vicia faba agglutinin (VFA), wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), edible mushroom lectin (Agaricus bisporus, ABL), peanut agglutinin (PNA) and soybean agglutinin (SBA), against several lines of cancer cells.
Peanut lectins adhere to colon cells and their ability to cause proliferation, or division, of the colon cells has caused some people to wonder if peanut lectins might stimulate colorectal cancer growth. Other dietary lectins inhibit proliferation.
VFA was the only one tested which caused cancer cells to form more normal glandular-like cells that are considered more differentiated. VFA and ABL are the only non-toxic dietary lectins which inhibit proliferation.
CONCLUSION: VFA stimulated cancer cells to differentiate and become more mature and less cancerous. It is speculated that dietary and therapeutic FBA could slow the progression of colon cancer. ABL did show some benefit.
NOTE: Lectins are the elements reviewed and studied by Dr. D’Adamo in his books on the relation between diet types, such as “Eat Right for Your Blood Type” in which he reports on the relationship between lectin sensitivity and blood types. Lectins are proteins which cause cells to agglutinate by attaching to the molecules of sugars on cell surfaces. Certain lectins cause the agglutination of certain blood type red cells or certain cancer cells.
Agglutinins are antibodies that aggregate specific antigens.