April 11--Eat three peaches a day. That's what Washington State University food science professor Giuliana Noratto recommends for women who want to take measures to slow down the spread of breast cancer.
Noratto and researchers from Texas A&M published their research on the benefits of consuming the sweet fruit in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2009 and in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry last month.
After testing the fruit on rats, they found chemicals in peaches can reduce metastasis -- the spread of malignant breast cancer cells -- by "inducing death" to those cells. The chemicals do this by activating cell signals in the cancer that "drive them to commit suicide," she said.
This is good news considering breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women and one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To test the effect of peaches, they first took female mice and implanted breast cancer cells. They then fed the mice extracts from peaches and measured the volume of tumors in each one throughout the study.
Those fed high levels of extract had slower-growing tumors, though that wasn't surprising to the researchers, she said. Noratto said there are already studies showing how chemicals found in peaches can have this effect.
What was surprising, she said, was seeing cancer cells die off, causing metastasis to slow down.
Judging by the weight of the mice and the amount of extract they were fed, this is equivalent to a 132-pound human eating three peaches a day, Noratto said.
Noratto is a firm believer the right nutrition can go a long way in treating ailments. She has studied the medicinal benefits of fruits and plants dating back to research she conducted in her home country of Peru.
"I believe that a healthy diet can help you to live longer and healthier," she said.
When it comes to cancer, she said good nutrition can even go as far as being a chemopreventive
"This means that even when cancer has already started, a good nutrition rich in (chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants) can delay the progress of cancer," she said. "That is reflected in quality of life of patients with cancer."
She also said healthy foods can lower the body's resistance to cancer drugs, thus making the drugs more effective.
Noratto said she has yet to test if peaches are effective on other cancers. She is currently studying the effects of chemical compounds in wheat, barley, apple and dairy products.
Noratto has conducted research in food science for 11 years, most of which occurred at Texas A&M. She has been working at WSU since 2012.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4630, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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