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Strawberries ‘may prevent cancer’
Published on 7 Apr. 2011 12:56 AM IST
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Call it berry good news for people facing cancer. Preliminary research from China suggests that freeze-dried strawberries may help prevent esophageal cancer, a malignancy that kills about 15,000 Americans a year. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held in Orlando, Fla. April 2-6.
Study author Dr. Tong Chen, assistant professor of internal medicine and a cancer researcher at Ohio State University, said in a written statement issued by the association, “Our preliminary data suggests that strawberries can decrease histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduce cancer-related molecular events.”
A study found that eating freeze-dried strawberries reduced the cancer-causing potential of abnormal growths in the esophagus, or gullet.
Based on the findings, scientists believe the fruit may help to prevent or delay esophageal cancer in high-risk patients.
Survival rates for the disease are low, with only around 8% of patients living five years after diagnosis. Each year, 8,000 people in the UK are found to have esophageal cancer and 7,600 die from the disease.
Combined use of tobacco and alcohol, poor diet, and chronic acid reflux are all risk factors for esophageal cancer, the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the world. “Morse” actor John Thaw died from the disease aged 60.
The new research, conducted in China, involved 36 individuals with pre-cancerous changes who were considered to be at high risk of esophageal cancer. Each participant ate 60 grams, or two ounces, of freeze-dried strawberries daily for six months.
Biopsy tissue samples were surgically removed from the patients for analysis before and after they began their fruit therapy.
The results, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Orlando, Florida, showed that 29 of the group experienced a noticeable reduction in the grade of their pre-cancerous lesions. Molecular changes pointing to cancer inhibition were also seen.
Study leader Dr Tong Chen, from Ohio State University Medical Centre in Columbus, US, said: “We predict that the majority of patients with pre-cancerous lesions in their esophagus will develop esophageal cancer over subsequent decades. Our study is important because it shows that strawberries may slow the progression of pre-cancerous lesion in the esophagus.”
“Strawberries may be an alternative, or may work together with other chemopreventive drugs, for the prevention of esophageal cancer. But, we will need to test this in randomized placebo-controlled trials in the future.”

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