Apple a day also keeps breast cancer at bay

February 18th, 2009 - 11:59 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) There is a growing body of evidence to show that an apple a day can keep not just the doctor away, but breast cancer too.
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed invasive cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in US, said Rui Hai Liu, Cornell University associate professor of food science.

Recently, Liu reported that fresh apple extracts significantly inhibited the size of mammary tumours in rats - and the more extracts they were given, the greater the inhibition.

“We not only observed that the treated animals had fewer tumours, but the tumours were smaller, less malignant and grew more slowly compared with the tumours in untreated rats,” said Liu, which confirmed the findings of his preliminary study in 2007.

In his latest study, for example, he found that a type of adenocarcinoma - a highly malignant tumour and the main cause of death of breast-cancer patients, as well as of animals with mammary cancer - was evident in 81 percent of tumours in the control animals.

However, it developed in only 57 percent, 50 percent and 23 percent of the rats fed low, middle and high doses of apple extracts (the equivalent of one, three and six apples a day in humans), respectively, during the 24-week study.

“That reflects potent anti-proliferative [rapid decrease] activity,” said Liu. The studies highlight the important role of phytochemicals, known as phenolics or flavonoids, found in apples and other fruits and vegetables.

In a study of apple peel, Liu reported on a variety of new phenolic compounds that he discovered that also have “potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative activities” on tumours, said a Cornell release.

Recently, Liu’s group also reported the finding that apple phytochemicals inhibit an important inflammation pathway (NFkB) in human breast cancer cells.

These findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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