Are 'superfruits' a magic bullet to ward off cancer? Not quite.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, can drinking noni or pomegranate juice, popping acai palm berry supplements or munching on wolfberries ward off cancer?

Probably not, says Dr. David Euhus, professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and an expert in cancer genetics and risk assessment. So-called “superfruits” marketed by companies for their supposedly high nutritional and antioxidant content really have no documented impact on keeping cancer at bay in humans.

“There’s really no superfood that’s been proven to reduce the risk of cancer,” Dr. Euhus says. “The antioxidants in clinical trials have not shown an effect on cancer rates.”

While some animal studies have linked eating certain foods with cancer reduction, those results have not been duplicated in human trials. Certain vegetables, such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, have nutritional content that Dr. Euhus finds “intriguing” in terms of potential disease-fighting properties, but study results in those as well remain inconclusive.

So what, if anything, can be done to ward off cancer in terms of diet and exercise? Dr. Euhus says to stay away from simple sugars that can raise insulin levels, which have been linked to increased breast cancer rates. While diet connections are harder to prove, Dr. Euhus says frequent exercise consistently has been shown to reduce breast cancer rates.

As for fruit, which most people lump into a “healthy” category, Dr. Euhus warns people that fruits are still loaded with natural sugar, so quantities should be limited. “I think of fruit as a dessert and not as a medicine,” says Dr. Euhus.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/cancer to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

Media Contact: Debbie Bolles

Return to May 2011 News Tips

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