Apples have been the subject of religious symbolisms, mythologies, and almost all illustrations of gravity. But they also simply happen to be fruits, and pretty good of those. In being so, they have another miraculous quality. Studies have shown that apples can help in prevention and development of cancer.
Apples are a rich source of a multitude of essential nutrients. This makes them really good for our health. But of particular interest here are the non-essential nutrients, particularly, the phytochemicals (fight-o-chemicals is easier to remember). Herbal, and Ayurvedic, medicines also derive their healing properties from these plant-produced chemical compounds are what.
Unless you aced in high school biology. just reading the names of these phytochemicals can be intimidating. To keep this article accessible, we won’t go into much detail of how or why they work.
Before we read further, you need to understand what cancer really is. To say simply, cancer is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of tissue. It can affect any part, any organ of the body- any part made up of live cells, to be precise. So this excludes hair and nails because they’re just keratin.
How cancer develops?
The human body, like every living organism, keeps growing until it dies. New cells are created every minute and replace the older, corroded ones. Cancer develops when our body loses control and fails to regulate this process. The data- which tells the cells when to multiply and when to stop- is stored in the DNA. When the DNA gets damaged, tumors develop, leading to multiple diseases, including cancer.
What cause cancer?
DNA gets damaged because of both external and internal causes. Sometimes the incorrect (mutated) DNA is borrowed from parents. This type of mutation is seen commonly in cases of breast cancers. Other times, the mutation is caused by external irritants (also called carcinogens) like cigarette smoke.
What can apples do?
Apples can prevent irritants from causing damage to genetic material, hence preventing development of cancers. In our daily lives, we are inadvertently exposed to diesel vehicle emmissions – a known carcinogen. Pectin from apples is particularly effective against the irritants found in diesel fumes. Pectin, with other fibres, cleanses the body of many carcinogenic chemicals.
After the damage has been done to genes, tumor starts forming, ultimately leading to spread of cancer. Oxidation of the DNA is a culprit in this. Apple phytochemicals, like quercetin-glycosides, work to hunt down and clean the body of free radicals, reducing overall oxidation. Apple also promotes a form of intracellular (within the cells) communication which aids in killing the cancerous cells.
Apples also contains flavalols, like catechin, which reduce inflammation in body. They work by inhibiting enzymes which cause cell injury that may ultimately lead to formation of cancerous tumours.
In summary, we can say that apples are made up of ‘warrior’ fight-o-chemicals. These warrior chemicals have the power to wage war against the cancer causing agents, and cancerours cells. This knowledge gives us all the more reasons to snack on the all good La Pomme.
By Lakshya Dahiya
Gerhauser, Clarissa. “Cancer Chemopreventive Potential of Apples, Apple Juice, and Apple Components.” Planta Medica, vol. 74, no. 13, 2008, pp. 1608–1624., doi:10.1055/s-0028-1088300.