Compounds in Apple Peels Act Against Cancer
An apple peel a day might help keep cancer away, researchers at Cornell University have discovered.
Rui Hai Liu, Cornell associate professor of food science, has found that several compounds have potent anti-proliferative activities against human liver, colon, and breast cancer cells and may be partially responsible for the anti-cancer activities of whole apples.
Liu and his team have identified a dozen compounds called triterpenoids in apple peel that either inhibit or kill cancer cells in laboratory cultures. Three of the compounds have not previously been described in the literature.
Liu is affiliated with Cornell’s Institute of Comparative and Environmental Toxicology and is senior author of the study.
In previous Cornell studies, apples had been found not only to fight cancer cells in the laboratory but also to reduce the number and size of mammary tumors in rats. The Cornell researchers now think that the triterpenoids may be doing much of the anti-cancer work.
With co-author Xiangjiu He, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher, Liu analyzed the peel from 230 pounds of red delicious apples from the Cornell Orchard and isolated their individual compounds.
After identifying the structures of the promising compounds in the peel, the researchers tested the pure compounds against cancer cell growth in the laboratory.
In the past, Liu has also identified compounds called phytochemicals–mainly flavonoids and phenolic acids–in apples and other foods that appear to be have anti-cancer properties as well, including inhibiting tumor growth in human breast cancer cells.