Vitamin C can prove effective in the fight for cancer prevention, but apples may be better, according to scientists from Cornell University and Seoul National University.

In a report published in the Lancet medical journal (vol 359, no 9301), Professor C.Y. Lee, a Cornell expert on food science and technology, and his South Korean colleagues, Ki Won Lee, Hyong Joo Lee and Kyung-Sun Kang, explain that vitamin C’s anti-cancer activity is effective because it blocks the carcinogenic effects of hydrogen peroxide on intercellular communication.

Lee comments: “Vitamin C has been considered one of the most important essential nutrients in our diet since the discovery in 1907 that it prevents scurvy.”

Explaining that gap-junction intercellular communication (GJIC) is essential to maintain normal cell growth and strongly related to the carcinogenic process, he adds that vitamin C also “prevents the inhibition of GJIC induced by hydrogen peroxide”.

The report also says, however, that quercetin, a natural phytochemical found in apples, works even better than vitamin C in terms of its anticancer activity.

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Lee concludes, “a diet rich in phytochemicals and vitamin C will reduce the risk of cancer”.