(RxWiki News) Food as medicine is a concept that continues to evolve. We've learned how a number of foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) contain compounds that can help prevent and fight cancer.
A fruit has been added to this list as a potential way to ward off a particularly nasty malignancy.
Strawberries may be effective in preventing pre-cancerous lesions found in the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat with the stomach) from turning into full-scale esophageal cancer.
"Make whole fruits and vegetables a large part of your diet. "
Researchers as The Ohio State University, led by Tong Chen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medical oncology, found that freeze-dried strawberries could be a better option than drugs for preventing esophageal cancer.
“We concluded from this study that six months of eating strawberries is safe and easy to consume," Dr. Chen said. "In addition, our preliminary data suggests that strawberries can decrease histological grade (aggressiveness) of precancerous lesions and reduce cancer-related molecular events.”
Chen's research team is studying the most common form of the disease, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Earlier studies found that freeze-dried strawberries blocked the development of tumors in rats.
Armed with these results, researchers started a trial with 36 individuals who had pre-cancerous esophageal lesions, who were at high risk of developing cancer.
Participants ate 60 grams (about 5 tablespoons) of freeze-dried strawberries every day for six months and tracked their consumption with a dietary diary. Dr. Chen said the freeze-dried version of the fruit was ideal because it concentrates the preventive substances of strawberries by nearly 10-fold.
Biopsies were taken before and after the study. Results showed that after eating strawberries, disease progression slowed in 29 of the 36 participants.
“Strawberries may be an alternative or work together with other chemo-preventive drugs for the prevention of esophageal cancer," Dr. Chen said. "But, we will need to test this in randomized placebo-controlled trials in the future.”
It should be noted that research is considered preliminary before it is published in peer-reviewed journals. These findings were presented at the American Association of Cancer Research 2011 meeting.