An apple a day helps beat breast tumours, scientists say

Big apple: They have been proved to help in the fight against cancer

Big apple: They have been proved to help in the fight against cancer

An apple a day keeps breast cancer away, evidence shows.

A study found apple extract slowed the growth in rats of adenocarcinoma tumours, the biggest cause of breast-cancer deaths.

The more apple the rats were given, the more their tumours were inhibited.

In a group denied apples, 81 per cent of rats suffered rapid tumour growth.

Yet the disease multiplied in only 57 per cent of those fed the human equivalent to one apple a day.

In rats fed the equivalent of six a day, tumours proliferated in just 23 per cent.

‘We not only observed that the treated animals had fewer tumours, but the tumours were smaller, less malignant and grew more slowly compared with the tumours in untreated rats,’ said Professor Rui Hai Liu of Cornell University's Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology in New York.

The study’s results are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researchers say the study highlights the role of phytochemicals, known as flavonoids or phenolics, in the diet, because of their ‘potent anti-oxidant  and anti-proliferative activities’ within the body's cells.

Apples are leading sources of flavonoids, followed by oranges, grapes, strawberries, plums and bananas.

‘These studies add to the growing evidence that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, including apples, would provide consumers with more phenolics, which are proving to have important health benefits,’ said Professor Liu.

The 24-week study was backed by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with around 125 women diagnosed each day. It claims the lives of more than 12,000 women and around 70 men annually in the UK. One million more are diagnosed worldwide each year.