According to a new study by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute as well as researchers in China, consuming strawberries may be a viable way to help those at risk of esophageal cancer to protect themselves from this serious disease. The study is the first-ever collaborative Ohio State cancer clinical trial to be conducted in China.
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They contain more vitamin C than citrus fruit and are also a good source of folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin K. Strawberries also contain an plethora of beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid.
According to Dr. Tong Chen who is the lead author and assistant professor in the division of medical oncology at Ohio State, ”We concluded from this study that six months of strawberry treatment is safe and easy to consume. In addition, our preliminary data suggests that strawberries decreased histological grade of precancerous lesions and reduced cancer-related molecular events.”
Previously published research by Dr. Chen and other colleagues found that freeze-dried strawberries significantly inhibited tumor development in the esophagus of rats. Based on these results, the researchers embarked on a phase Ib clinical trial in China to investigate the effects of freeze-dried strawberries on patients with esophageal precancerous lesions. “We found that daily consumption of strawberries suppressed various biomarkers involved in esophageal carcinogenesis, including cell proliferation, inflammation and gene transcription,” Chen commented.
Even thought the study was definitely small (36 study participants individually consumed 60 grams – about two ounces of freeze-dried strawberries daily for six months), the results indicated that 29 out of 36 participants (80%) experienced a decrease in histological grade of the precancerous lesions during the study.
“We predict that the majority of patients with precancerous lesions in their esophagus will develop esophageal cancer over subsequent decades. Our study is important because it shows that strawberries may slow the progression of precancerous lesion in the esophagus. Strawberries may be an alternative, or may work together with other chemopreventive drugs, for the prevention of esophageal cancer. But, we will need to test this in randomized placebo-controlled trials in the future,” commented Dr. Chen.
Esophageal cancer is the third most common gastrointestinal cancer and the sixth most frequent cause of cancer death in the world, said Dr. Chen, who also holds a doctorate in Public Health. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma makes up 95 percent of cases of esophageal cancer in the world today. The survival rate of this type of esophageal cancer (using conventional medicine) is very low, with only 10 percent of patients living 5 years after diagnosis.
It is interesting to make note that esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is quite common in China, Japan, the Transkei region of South Africa, Iran, France and Puerto Rico. Because China has the largest population in the world, the number of potential participants for clinical trials is higher than in any other country in the world. “We believe that establishing collaborative research teams will enhance clinical research, and that our project will ‘open doors’ for multiple other trials in China,” Dr. Chen said.
Common risk factors for the development of esophageal cancer include tobacco and alcohol use, as well as the SAD diet that lacks adequate intake of organic fruits and vegetables. Additional risk factors in Asia include dietary intake of salty food, intake of food contaminated with mycotoxins, vitamins and mineral deficiencies as well as thermal injuries due to the consumption of hot beverages.
Since strawberries are one of the fruits that are easily contaminated by toxic pesticides and herbicides, I would highly recommend consuming strawberries (frozen or not) that are organic or locally grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides. It is also important to make sure that the fruit is properly washed before consuming.
Even though funding that supported this research was from the California Strawberry Commission, I believe that this information is vital and once again underlines the fact that nature has provided us with some of the best cancer prevention strategies.
Other researchers involved in the study are Fei Yan and Huaji Guan of Ohio State; Gary D. Stoner of Medical College of Wisconsin; and from China: Jiaming Qian, Guiqi Wang, Ning Lu, Hongbing Zhang, Mingzhou Guo, Lian Li, Yanli Zeng, Xiaomin Wang.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (cancer.osu.edu) is one of only 40 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States designated by the National Cancer Institute. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top cancer hospitals in the nation, The James is the 205-bed adult patient-care component of the cancer program at The Ohio State University. The OSUCCC – James is one of only seven programs in the country funded by the NCI to conduct both Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.