An Apple a Day Keeps the Cancer Away?

apple cancer prevention
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No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but how seriously have you taken that advice?

Perhaps not seriously enough.

It may have started out as folk wisdom (which is often wisdom indeed), but what can the scientific literature tell us regarding how truthful this statement really is?

A Simple Apple Can Help Prevent Cancer?

That sounds like a tall order for such a common, inexpensive fruit.  But perhaps the most effective solutions can also seem like the least likely.

Let’s see what the study says.

In the January 2000 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers decided to find out whether certain flavonoids could play a role in the prevention of lung cancer.

The researchers put together two groups of people in Hawaii:

  • One group of 582 patients with incident lung cancer
  • A second group of 582 age, sex and ethnicity-matched people without lung cancer to be used as a control group.

The researchers then conducted in-person interviews to assess the subjects’ smoking habits and food intake.  They surveyed the subjects’ intake of 242 food items to determine if there was any correlation between the intake of certain flavonoids and cancer risk.

Are Apples & Quercetin Cancer Preventers?

Here is the good news.  The researchers found statistically significant inverse associations between lung cancer risk and the main food sources of the following two flavonoids:

  • Quercetin
  • Naringin

Quercetin is a flavonoid that is commonly found in both apples and onions.

Naringin is found in large quantities in white grapefruit.

How Much was the Cancer Risk Reduced?

When comparing the top quartile to the lowest quartile of those who consumed apples, they found the odds of getting lung cancer to be only 6 out of 10 among the top quartile.

Onions, on the other hand, had even lower odds of only 5 of out of 10!  And the same odds of 5 out of 10 were found for those who consumed the most white grapefruit.

So What Can We Do With This Information?

Since it appears that eating apples, onions (raw is best) and white grapefruit may reduce the risk of lung cancer, we should probably consider eating them!

So long as you are not allergic, of course.

It is important to note that the study did not find these foods cured lung cancer, but instead reduced the risk of it.

Now  that is not to say that these foods, or quercetin or naringin, cannot fight lung cancer as well.  It is just to say that this study did not prove that, nor did it set out to. 

Therefore there is no specific recommendation for use of any of these foods or flavonoids as a treatment plan.  Always talk to your doctor about that.

Crowdforcing Your Health

Those of you long-time readers may remember that I try to eat an apple every day as part of my health “crowdforcing” plan, which you can read more about here.  It is something that anyone can do, it is easy, and it carries with it a number of residual benefits that you might find useful.

It is an easy method to include any number of superfoods and productive habits into your life that can hopefully yield compounded results over the course of your life.

Be sure to check out the article for more.

And in the meantime, you might want to consider that apple a day.  And who knows, maybe we should amend that old idiom:

An apple, (and an onion and a grapefruit) a day can keep the doctor even further away!


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