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    Strawberries May Help Prevent Esophageal Cancer

    Small Study Shows Slowing of Precancerous Lesions for People Who Ate Freeze-Dried Strawberries

    Slowing Down Precancerous Lesions continued...

    The strawberries appeared to slow progression of the lesions in most. "Twenty nine of the 36 experienced a decreased level of precancerous lesions," Chen tells WebMD.

    Overall, six had no change and one had an increase in lesion development.

    A cancer-causing agent known as N-NMBA (nitrosomethylbenzylamine) is linked with esophageal cancer, Chen says.

    It's found in some pickled vegetables, fried bacon, and other foods, she says. Tobacco smoke also contains nitrosamine cancer-causing agents.

    ''We think the strawberries can inhibit the activation of the NMBA," she says.

    Among the substances in the strawberries that may help, she says, are vitamins, folic acid, and minerals.

    Strawberries and Cancer Prevention

    The new research is interesting but preliminary, according to Stephen Shibata, MD, clinical professor of medical oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. He reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

    Many questions remain to be answered, he tells WebMD. "The basic idea [for future study] would be to make sure this isn't chance -- to observe a number of patients who did not get strawberries but got medical advice."

    It's possible, he says, that the patients in the study made other lifestyle changes once they joined the study.

    Other questions to be answered, he says, are figuring out the best dose of strawberries and for how long they should be eaten.

    "I would not recommend people go out and eat a lot of strawberries based on this," he says.

    More research is needed, including studies that compare eating strawberries with not eating strawberries, says Marji McCullough, RD, ScD, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. Meanwhile, including plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet is a good idea, she says.

    "Studies show that eating a wide variety of non-starchy fruits and vegetables, and avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and obesity, are important ways to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer," McCullough says.

    This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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