Strawberries Show Promise
As a Potent Weapon against Oral Cancer
With fresh, local strawberries due on farmers’ market shelves in May, it’s easy to enjoy the cancer-protective benefits of berries all year long.
As the strawberry-growing season heats up, researchers are putting renewed attention into studying the beneficial effects of berries, including strawberries, on cancer. The berries’ cancer-fighting potential may be even greater than previously thought, with their many nutritional compounds providing protection against—and, in some cases, even reversal of—oral cancer.
The strawberry’s effectiveness against oral cancer first came to light in a 2011 study in China, which was led by cancer researchers at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. In the study, patients with mild to moderate precancerous lesions of the esophagus consumed one to two ounces a day of a drink made with freeze-dried strawberry powder, made from whole berries. After six months, the progression of the disease was reversed in 80% of patients, from moderate to mild or from mild to completely eliminated.
In April 2017, OSU scientists presented the results of another study, in which they administered a candy containing the equivalent of 2.5 cups of whole strawberries to a group of smokers and nonsmokers. Participants ate the candy four times a day for a week, while abstaining from eating other red and purple vegetables.
At the end of one week, saliva and tissue samples from the smokers who consumed the strawberry candy showed significant differences, including in “changes in the microbiome, or bacteria, and in the expression of genes, both which may play a role in cancer’s development,” according to a summary on Newsmax Health. Encouraged by these preliminary results, OSU researchers are currently recruiting 250 smokers for their new study.
Strawberries pack an array of antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and ellagitannins. They’re also high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, several B vitamins, folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to being a promising treatment for oral and other cancers, studies have found a positive correlation between berries and improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and improved blood-sugar regulation (and, thus, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes).
Fresh, local berries often contain more nutrients than imported foods, and can easily be purchased in larger quantities and frozen for year-round enjoyment. To freeze fresh strawberries, simply remove the stems and caps, rinse well, and drain; then place the berries in a single layer on clean towels to dry. Place the dry berries in plastic containers or bags, and freeze until needed.
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