Eating bread crusts could protect people from bowel cancer because of a chemical released during the baking process, scientists have claimed.

The antioxidant, which forms due to a chemical reaction during cooking, can prevent biological changes that lead to tumours and is eight times more abundant in the crust than the rest of the loaf, according to a study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Scientists from Annamalai University in India gave rats a daily intake of the chemical pronyl-lysine and found it halted the formation of pre-cancerous abnormal tissue by up to 72%.

According to the Daily Mail, the scientists were unsure how much bread crust people would require to fully register the health benefits.