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Strawberries may prevent esophageal cancer

Thursday, April 07, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: strawberries, esophageal cancer, health news

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(NaturalNews) According to the National Cancer Institute, about 16,700 new cases of esophageal cancer were diagnosed last year -- and about 14,500 people died from the disease. Obviously, there's no easy cure for this often fatal malignancy. So, as with any disease, it's much better to prevent getting it in the first place.

But how? Mainstream medicine pushes Big Pharma drugs called H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to calm gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in hopes of preventing Barrett's esophagus, a complication of GERD that ups the risk for esophageal cancer. But these meds are loaded with potential side effects and there's no strong evidence they really prevent cancer.

However, a new study provides evidence there may be a natural and tasty way to not only lower the odds of developing esophageal cancer but to halt and perhaps reverse the progression of precancerous lesions.

The powerful and delicious substance? Strawberries, especially the freeze-dried variety.These findings were just presented for the first time at the American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held in Orlando.

"We concluded from this study that six months of eating strawberries is safe and easy to consume. In addition, our preliminary data suggests that strawberries can decrease histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduce cancer-related molecular events," said lead researcher Tong Chen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, division of medical oncology, department of internal medicine at Ohio State University. Dr. Chen is also a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program in Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

She pointed out that esophageal cancer is the third most common gastrointestinal cancer and the sixth most frequent cause of cancer death in the world. Dr. Chen and her research team are zeroing in on esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) which accounts for 95 percent of cases of esophageal cancer worldwide.

In earlier research, Dr. Chen's research team discovered that freeze-dried strawberries significantly inhibited esophageal tumor development in rats. For the new study, the scientists launched a trial which included participants with esophageal precancerous lesions who were at high risk for developing full-blown esophageal cancer.

The research subjects consumed 60 grams of freeze-dried strawberries every day for six months. Freeze-dried strawberries were used because, by removing the water from the berries, the natural cancer-preventive substances in the strawberries soared by nearly 10-fold, according to Dr. Chen.

Biopsies were taken before and after the six months of strawberry consumption. The results showed that 29 out of 36 participants experienced a decrease in the histological grade of their precancerous esophageal lesions during the time they ate the strawberries.

"Our study is important because it shows that strawberries may slow the progression of precancerous lesions in the esophagus. Strawberries may be an alternative or work together with other chemopreventive drugs for the prevention of esophageal cancer," Dr. Chen stated.

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