Washington: Scientists have found that eating strawberries may be a way to help people at risk of esophageal cancer protect themselves from the disease.
Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) and researchers in China jointly conducted the study.
The study is the first-ever collaborative Ohio State cancer clinical trial to be conducted in China.
"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," said Tong Chen, lead author, and assistant professor at Ohio State.
Previously research by Chen and colleagues have 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," said Chen.
Each of the 36 study participants ate 60 grams of freeze-dried strawberries daily for six months. The researchers obtained biopsy specimens before and after the strawberry consumption.
The results showed that 29 out of 36 participants experienced a decrease in histological grade of the precancerous lesions during the study.
"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," he said.
The finding is to be presented during a press briefing at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 102nd meeting 2011 in Orlando, Fla.