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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Hidden benefits for apple-eaters
Apples could help people fight cancer
There may be more reasons than simply vitamin C to eat an apple a day, according to researchers.

Scientists have examined the cancer-fighting potential of various chemicals found in the flesh and skin of the fruit.

And they have found that together, these chemicals have an effect which far outweighs that of taking only vitamin C.

The chemicals involved are called flavanoids and polyphenols, and the research study, published in Nature magazine, look at their combined "anti-oxidant" ability.

Anti-oxidants are thought to possibly protect from cancer by "mopping up" molecules responsible for cell damage, which can trigger the disease.

The researchers, from Cornell University in New York, found that eating just 100g of apple gave an anti-oxidant effect equivalent to taking some 1,500mg of vitamin C.

'Keeps the doctor away'

Professor Chong Yong Lee, one of the study authors, said: "Some of the chemicals are known to be anti-allergenic, some are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral. Now I have a reason to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

To test the cancer fighting qualities of the "phytochemicals" in apples, the researchers used colon cancer cells grown in the laboratory.

They found that 50mg of the phytochemicals - extracted from the apple skin, inhibited the reproduction of the cells by 43%.

An extract of the apple flesh inhibited the cells by 29%.

An even more pronounced effect was found when the same chemicals were tested on human liver cancer cells.

A spokesman for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund said: "This research suggests that fresh apples have an anti-oxidant activity greater than can be expected through its vitamin C content.

"The mechanism for the protective effect of fruit and vegetables has not been identified nor has it been established that apples are more beneficial than other fruits."

He advised that people should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

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