Would an Apple a Day Keep the Oncologist Away?

by | Updated Aug 4, 2022 | Cancer, Fruits

Diet can influence cancer development in both positive and negative ways. It is estimated that a healthy lifestyle and healthy dietary practices could help lower incidence of all cancers by 30-40%.1 A systematic review and a meta-analysis of 41 studies state that the consumption of apples is associated with a reduced risk of cancer in different anatomical sites. Comparing the highest with the lowest level of apple consumption, apples really made a big difference in the reduction of lung cancer risk. This association was statistically, highly significant in both case-control and cohort studies. Frequent apple consumption in many (but not all) studies seemed to be linked to less cancer of the digestive tract.2 Higher apple intake has been linked with lower risk for cancer mortality in elderly women.3

Why Apples?

A combination of plant compounds, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, both in apples, particularly the skin — provide the fruit’s anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting activities.4 Fisetin is one such cancer- fighter and has been shown to inhibit or retard the growth of various cancer cells in culture and in rodent studies.5

Consumption of the whole apple provides a very significant prebiotic by acting as a fertilizer that stimulates the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. These friendly gut bacteria produce anti-inflammatory compounds that help protect from cancer and other chronic diseases. Please know that a little more than half of the cancer-fighting phenolic compounds are in the apple peel instead of the apple flesh. So cooked apple sauce has very marginal amounts. Apple fiber content promotes the bioaccessibility of other beneficial phytochemicals. 6 Because the apple’s fiber is inside the plant cell wall, juicing and cooking an apple will adversely compromise its fiber.

A Closer Look

Apples contain at least seven types of cancer-fighting compounds. Test tube studies and research on live organism studies suggest that phytochemicals in apples work in synergy to inhibit multiple steps of cancer development. These studies show that apple phytochemicals inhibit inflammation and the proliferation of cancer cells and promote their destruction.7 In addition, apple phytochemicals inhibit growth factors involved in cancer development, invasion, and metastasis of cancer cells.8 Quercetin found in apples has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation of breast, ovarian, lung, and liver cancer cells in the test tube or culture dishes. These in vitro studies provide early evidence. Combined with animal and epidemiological studies, the evidence becomes more convincing! Clinical trials would undoubtedly be helpful if the researchers could limit the confounding variables.

Caveats: We are not saying that the daily consumption of an apple is a panacea for cancer prevention or treatment. Buying organic produce is the best. If you can’t afford organic foods, soaking your apples and fruit in a solution of about one part salt to nine-parts water can help remove pesticides, according to Dr. McGregor.9

Colon Protection

In one in vitro study, scientists studied the effect of apple extract on the proliferation of cancer cells. Colon cancer cells treated with 50 milligrams of apple extract (from the skin) were inhibited by 43 percent. The extract obtained from the apple flesh inhibited the colon cancer cells by 29 percent. 10  Polysaccharides in apples help to reduce inflammation in the colon caused by colitis-associated colon cancer. 11

Liver Protection

The researchers in the above study also tested the apple extract against human liver cancer cells. At 50 milligrams, the extract derived from the apple skin inhibited those cancer cells by 57 percent. The apple extract derived from the fruit’s fleshy part inhibited cancer cells by only 40 percent. 12

And More!

Scientists analyzed data from multicenter, case-control studies conducted between 1991 and 2002 in Italy. They found that individuals who regularly consumed one apple a day reduced their risk for oral and throat cancers by 21%, lowered their risk for esophageal cancer by 25%, and decreased their risk of colorectal cancer by 42%.  The risk for breast cancer was reduced by 15%. 13

Will apple consumption or apple extract cure cancer in human beings? No, they are not a cure-all, but along with a plant-based diet, weight control, sufficient exercise and sleep, and refraining from harmful substances, their daily consumption could help reduce your risk for seeing an oncologist.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is helpful and is educational. It is not the author’s or authors’ or Wildwood Health Institute’s intent to substitute the blog article for diagnosis, counseling, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved by Wildwood Sanitarium, Inc. 

Sources

  1. Divisi D, Diet and cancer. Acta Biomed. 2006 Aug;77(2):118-23. PMID: 17172193.
  2. Fabiani R. Apple intake and cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr.2016 Oct;19(14):2603-17.
  3. Hodgson JM. Apple intake is inversely associated with all-cause and disease-specific mortality in elderly women. Br J Nutr.2016 Mar 14;115(5):
  4. Cornell University. “Phytochemicals In Apples Are Found To Provide Anticancer And Anti-Oxidant Benefits, Cornell Researchers Show.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2000. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000625232319.htm
  5. Rengarajan T. The flavonoid fisetin as an anticancer agent targeting the growth signaling pathways. Eur J Pharmacol.2016 Oct 15; 789:8-16.
  6. Nezbedova L., et al. Onco-Preventive and Chemo-Protective Effects of Apple Bioactive Compounds. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 11;13(11):4025. doi: 10.3390/nu13114025.
  7. Nezbedova L., et al. Onco-Preventive and Chemo-Protective Effects of Apple Bioactive Compounds. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 11;13(11):4025. doi: 10.3390/nu13114025
  8. McCann M., et al. Anti-cancer properties of phenolics from apple waste on colon carcinogenesis in vitro. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2007;45:1224–1230. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2007.01.003
  9. https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/04/20/the-best-way-to-wash-fruit-and-vegetables/
  10. Cornell University. “Phytochemicals In Apples Are Found To Provide Anticancer And Anti-Oxidant Benefits, Cornell Researchers Show.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2000. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000625232319.htm
  11. Zhang D. Apple polysaccharide reduces NF-Kb mediated colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis. Nutr Cancer. 2015;67(1):177-90.
  12. Cornell University. “Phytochemicals In Apples Are Found To Provide Anticancer And Anti-Oxidant Benefits, Cornell Researchers Show.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2000. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000625232319.htm
  13. Gallus S. Does an apple a day keep the oncologist away? Ann Oncol.2005 Nov;16(11):1841-4.
© 2023, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

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