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Strawberries may hold back growth of oesophageal cancer

Strawberries may hold back development of one of the most deadly cancers, research suggests.

A study found that eating freeze-dried strawberries reduced the cancer-causing potential of abnormal growths in the oesophagus, or gullet.

Based on the findings, scientists believe the fruit may help to prevent or delay oesophageal cancer in high-risk patients.

Survival rates for the disease are low, with only around 8pc of patients living five years after diagnosis.

Tobacco and alcohol, poor diet, and acid reflux are all risk factors for oesophageal cancer, the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the world.

Typically, the disease is preceded by abnormal pre-cancerous growths or lesions.

New research, conducted in China, involved 36 individuals considered to be at high risk of oesophageal cancer. Each participant ate 60 grams, or two ounces, of freeze-dried strawberries daily for six months. Biopsy tissue samples were surgically removed from the patients before and after they began therapy.

The results, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, showed that 29 of the group experienced a noticeable reduction in the malignancy grading of their pre-cancerous lesions. Molecular changes pointing to cancer inhibition were also seen.

Study leader Dr Tong Chen said freeze-drying strawberries concentrates their cancer-fighting chemicals almost 10-fold.

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