Fruits like blueberries, blackberries and papaya could be used to stop mouth cancer sells spreading through the body, according to a new study.
The research, conducted at the University of Hong Kong and published in the Journal of Cancer Research, found that as well as suppressing the spread of cancer, the lupeol compound that is contained in such fruits reduced the size of the tumour three times faster than the conventional cisplatin drug.
The compound works by blocking a natural protein called NFkB which helps to grow and repair all cells, even cancerous ones.
The research was welcomed by the British Dental Health Foundation, whose Mouth Cancer Awareness Week (November 11-17) is currently ongoing.
Its chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said: ‘We already knew that a healthy diet, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, could reduce a person’s risk of developing mouth cancer.
‘However, the news that certain fruits might actually help to combat mouth cancer in people who have already developed the condition is a real revelation.
‘It is true that this research is still in its very early stages. However, the suggestion is that the lupeol compound that is contained in fruits like blueberries, blackberries, papaya and blackcurrant could be more effective than traditional drugs in preventing the growth of mouth cancer cells.’
He added: ‘In the UK awareness of mouth cancer is frighteningly low. One in four have not even heard of it and up to one in two people are unaware of basic risk factors like tobacco and alcohol.
‘Mouth cancer kills one person every five hours in the UK and the number of new cases is rising every year. However, with early detection, survival chances increase from one in two to nine out of ten.’