Apple compounds fight cancer

An article published in the May 30, 2007 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry described the discovery of Xiangjiu He and Rui Hai Liu of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York that compounds occurring in the peel of apples demonstrate an anticancer effect in human cancer cells.

The duo isolated and identified thirteen triterpenoids in red delicious apple peel and evaluated their ability to inhibit abnormal cell proliferation in cultured liver, breast and colon cancer cell lines. Three of the compounds were newly identified by the team. "We found that several compounds have potent antiproliferative activities against human liver, colon and breast cancer cells and may be partially responsible for the anticancer activities of whole apples," stated Dr Liu, who is an associate professor of food science at Cornell and the study's senior author. "Some compounds were more potent and acted differently against the various cancer cell lines, but they all show very potent anticancer activities and should be studied further."

Previous studies conducted at Cornell found that apples also reduced the size and number of mammary tumors in rats as well as in cell cultures. Drs He and Liu believe that the triterpenoids may be among the compounds responsible for apples' benefits. Additionally, Dr Liu has identified phytochemical compounds known as flavonoids and phenolic acids in apples and other plant foods that appear to have anticancer properties. "We believe that a recommendation that consumers to eat five to 12 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is appropriate to reduce the risks of chronic diseases, including cancer, and to meet nutrient requirements for optimum health," Dr Liu said.