An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: An Analysis of the Health Benefits of Apples in Biblical and Modern Times
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Currently, there is much research being done on nutraceuticals, natural foods with pharmaceutical properties, and their role in cancer prevention and treatment. The idea that natural foods can have health benefits is not a new phenomenon, but rather, it dates back to biblical times. Traditional Judaic sources specifically single out the apple and note its ability to heal the sick. Today, the apple and the phytochemicals within, are being studied as a plausible mode of treatment for cancer, a major “sicknesses” infecting society. Epidemiological studies have continuously shown an inverse relationship between the consumption of apples and many types of cancer, including lung, breast, colorectal, and oral cancers. Studies have consistently shown that phytochemicals, through varying mechanisms, decrease proliferation and increase apoptosis in cancer cells. In breast cancer cells, phytochemicals have been shown to reduce proliferation by inhibiting PCNA and cyclin D1, and to induce apoptosis by decreasing Bcl-2 and increasing Bax and NF-κB proteins. In colorectal cancer cells, apoptosis was induced via an increase in Bax and a decrease in Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl proteins, and cell cycle progression was halted by inhibition of Gal-3. In oral cancer cells, phytochemicals were selectively toxic to carcinoma cells and induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. These results suggest that apples, because of their high content of phytochemicals, have medicinal properties, and as indicated in the Torah, can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of many diseases, including cancer
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