Avocados can prevent cancers

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

The virtues of eating avocado pears have long been encouraged, but new research has shown that this super food could actually help prevent oral and prostate cancer.

A study conducted at Ohio State University in the United States has found that the phytochemicals in the fruit are able to kill certain types of cancer cells and may even prevent some precancerous cells from developing.

Dietician Jane Badham said the study was one of the first-ever research linking avocados with oral cancer, and the possible prevention of it.

"Scientists found that phytochemicals extracted from avocados target multiple signalling pathways and increase the amount of reactive oxygen within the cells, leading to cell death in pre-cancerous cell lines. The phytochemicals did not, however, harm normal cells," Badham said.

She said more research was still necessary.

This is an average of 1400 new cases of oral cancer every year, according to the South African National Cancer Registry.

But experts agree that the incidence is probably much higher. Three-quarters of oral cancer patients are males.

The Ohio study follows research done in 2005 at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA), where scientists noted that avocados may inhibit prostate cancer.

Badham said: "What was most exciting about the UCLA research is how carotenoids, vitamins and other phytochemicals in avocados may have a synergistic effect against prostate cancer."