Apples Fight Cancer

By George Grow

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

You probably know a famous saying about the importance of eating apples. It is, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Now, a new American study shows eating apples may help fight cancer, too. Research scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York say a combination of chemicals found in apples is important for good health. The study shows that the combination of chemicals play an important part in anti-cancer and anti-oxidant activity. An anti-oxidant is one of many chemicals that reduce or prevent oxidation. This prevents damage to cells and tissues caused by atoms or molecules in the body called free radicals.

The scientists say the chemicals are in both the skin and the flesh of apples. Results of the study were reported in the publication Nature. The New York Apple Research Development Program and New York Apple Association paid for the study.

The Cornell researchers studied the chemicals, or extracts, taken from the skin and flesh of red apples grown in New York state. They studied the effectiveness of the apple extract in fighting cancer and preventing cell damage.

The researchers treated colon cancer cells with fifty milligrams of apple extract. Extracts from the apple skin reduced the growth of cancer cells by forty-three percent. Extracts from the fruit's flesh reduced the growth of cancer cells by twenty-nine percent.

The researchers also treated human liver cancer cells with apple extract. Extracts from the apple skin reduced the growth of those cells by fifty-seven percent. Extract from the fleshy part of the apple reduced the cancer cells by forty percent.

Lead researcher Rui Hai Liu said scientists have known that apples are good for human health. Mr. Liu says some scientists are interested in testing single vitamins or other substances to see if they alone fight disease. He says his study shows no single substance works alone to reduce cancer. Instead, he says the combination of chemicals in apples is effective.

Mr. Liu says eating fruits and vegetables is better than taking extra vitamin pills. He says people can get enough anti-oxidants from food without worrying about any possible harmful effects.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English