“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”– an old saying has been proved true again. According to a new cancer prevention study, an apple a day plus a veggie-intensive diet were ‘the stars’. The findings were presented at the annual frontiers in cancer prevention research conference in Seattle.
It is estimated that up to one-third of cancers are related to the food we eat. Antioxidants (agents that prevent or inhibit oxidation) in fruits and vegetables protect the body from damaging body cells; just like rust-proofing your car.
A specific study on apples conducted by French scientists concluded that a type of antioxidant found in apples, called Procyanidins, activated a series of cell signals that lead to death of cancer cells.
In an experiment with laboratory rats, the rats were injected with a colon (large intestine) cancer-causing substance and then fed a mixture containing water and apple procyanidins. After six weeks, rats that were fed with apple procyanidins had about half the number of pre-cancerous lesions in their colon (large intestine) compared with rats on a regular diet.
In another experiment on cells, it was revealed that procyanidins inhibit cancer growth. A chemical in apples triggered signals that caused apoptosis, a form of programmed cell-death that is an important weapon against cancer. Therefore, the finding suggested that eating apple (including the skin), might offer some cancer prevention benefits.
Another study by American researchers investigated the effect of eating vegetables on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of lymph cancer. They suggested that three or more servings of vegetables per day (potatoes not included) lessen the risk of developing the disease by 40% compared to people who eat less than one serving of vegetables a day.
In this study, 450 men and women in the age group of 20 and 74 diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were identified. Each was provided with diet information in a survey. Later, diets of those having cancer were compared with a group of people without cancer. Those who ate both green leafy and cruciferous vegetables that include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts showed particularly strong cancer prevention protection.
The daily diet of the cancer-free people included:
- One cup daily greens like spinach
- One-half cup of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.
As for specific nutrients and vitamins:
- Selenium and zinc have some cancer prevention effects.
- Individual vitamins like A, C, E, individual carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and retinal (promoted as a vitamin A booster) did not lower cancer risk.
The above goes on to show that the old saying ‘Eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ may have some truth in it after all. Do include some vegetables too and you’d have even more help keeping the doctor away!