Apples and Cancer

Yeah, there continues to be good news about eating apples and apple products.  There is new research that suggests that both apple pectin and apple juice extracts may enhance the body’s ability to protect from colon cancer.  German researchers found that nutrients in apples and apple juice react in the colon and help to slow the growth of precancerous and tumor cells. (Source: Scientific Journal, Nutrition, April 2008)

Researchers at the Rochester, Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic found that quercetin (plant based nutrient found most abundantly in apples) inhibits or prevented the growth of human prostate cancer cells by blocking activity of androgen hormones. (there have been previous studies to suggest a link between androgens and prostate cancer). (Source: Carcinogenesis, 2001,22:409-414).

There have been several studies that have validated the findings that the consumption of flavonoid quercetin , found primarily in apples and onions, had a statistically inverse association between lung cancer risks.

There have been two recent British studies that indicate eating apples can improve lung health.  A study of Welsh men found that when they ate at least 5 apples per week they experience better lung function. It was also found by researchers at the University of Nottingham that those who ate 5 apples per week also had a lower risk for respiratory disease.  Scientist have longed believed that antioxidants found in apples may ward off disease by countering oxygen’s damaging effects on the body. (Source: American Thoracic Society Meeting, May 2001; Thorax, January 2000)

Can an apple a day keep breast cancer away?  According to a study in rats by food scientists they can. Cornell University conducted a first ever study that looked at the effects of apples on breast cancer prevention in animals.  They found that the more apples consumed there was a greater reduction in the incidence of breast cancer tumors.  They found that the tumor incidence was reduced by 17, 39, and 44 percent in rats fed the human equivalence of one, three, or six apples a day, respectively over 24 weeks.

There continues to be more and more research looking at apple consumption and its effects or role in inhibiting cancer.  It seems a lot of the protective qualities of an apple come from the antioxidants and phytochemicals found mainly in the skin. Antioxidants help prevent cancer by mopping up cell-damaging free radicals and inhibiting the production of reactive chemicals that could damage normal cells.  I also think of antioxidants as little Pac Men running around in our bodies gobbling up all the free radicals that may cause cancer…