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Strawberries as Cancer Treatment? We'll See

Freeze-dried strawberries as a potent throat-cancer drug? Here we go again…. In a very small study, researchers from Ohio State University found some evidence that eating strawberries may slow the growth of precancerous lesions in the esophagus, and they presented their findings Wednesday at the American Assn. for Cancer Research in Orlando, Fla.

It's wise to keep these findings in perspective. After all, strawberries have shown promise for inhibiting throat-tumor growth before — in rats.  This time, researchers wanted to see if the berries had a cancer-warding effect in humans. So they asked 36 people at high risk for esophageal cancer to eat 60 grams (2 ounces) of freeze-dried strawberries every day for six months (removing the water makes the nutrients more concentrated).

Researchers took tissue samples from the esophagus before and after the six months. In 29 of the people, precancerous lesions — spots that may or may not turn into cancer—were downgraded on a cancer scale.

Before you go running to the fruit aisle to buy in bulk, consider…

-- These were precancer lesions, not actual tumors.

-- It's difficult to draw conclusions about anything from 36 people.

-- The research is preliminary and hasn’t been peer-reviewed in a journal. 

To be fair, all research starts somewhere. As the lead researcher points out, more study is needed before swapping fruit for chemotherapy. New, varying evidence pops up every week about ways to prevent cancer -- ways that may or may not pan out. Until solid evidence surfaces, it's probably best to follow that old advice: Eat a balanced diet. 

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