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An apple a day keeps the doctor away but carrots can keep cancer at bay.

Byline: By DANIEL DAVIES Western Mail

It was once an apple a day that kept the doctor away. Now scientists believe a daily carrot can keep ward off cancer. A compound in carrots has been found to reduce the risk of developing cancer, research published today reveals.

Eating a small carrot every day can help prevent the development of cancer, scientists at Newcastle University said.

Researchers found carrots' natural pesticide falcarinol decreased the likelihood of rats getting cancer by one-third.

Experts have long recommended that people eat carrots for their anti-cancer properties. But it has not been known exactly why the vegetable has this effect.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, is significant because it could lead to the development of anti-cancer drugs.

The scientists investigated falcarinol, which protects carrots from fungal diseases, after another study suggested it could prevent cancer.

Now an international research team has tested 24 laboratory rats with pre-cancerous tumours. They divided them into three groups and fed them different diets.

The team found that after 18 weeks rats who ate the orange variety of carrot along with their ordinary feed, and the group which ate pure falcarinol with their feed, were one-third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than the rats in the control group.

They say their research could lead to specific fruit and vegetable diets that are targeted towards certain diseases.

Newcastle University lecturer Dr Kirsten Brandt carried out the research with the University of Southern Denmark and the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences.

She said, 'We already know that carrots are good for us and can reduce the risk of cancer, but until now we have not known which element of the vegetable has these special properties.

'Our research allows us to make a more qualitative assessment of the vegetables we are eating, rather than quantitative.

'We now need to take it a step further by finding out how much falcarinol is needed to prevent the development of cancer and if certain types of carrot are better than others.

'We could also expand our research to include other vegetables. For consumers, it may soon no longer be a case of advising them to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day but to eat particular types of these in certain quantities.'

Jacqui Lowdon, dietician at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, said, 'We have always said that you need different portions of fruits and vegetables.

'You couldn't eat five carrots or five apples because you need a different balance. Two apples in a day only counts as one portion of fruit.'

The experiment was done with raw carrots so researchers do not yet know if eating boiled carrots or drinking carrot juice has the same effect.

Dr Brandt, who grows her own organic carrots and says she eats 'more than most', recommends people eat one small carrot every day, together with other vegetables and fruits, to benefit from their health-giving properties.

She said, 'The research could also lead to more tailored advice for growers regarding the methods they should use when growing vegetables.'

Falcarinol is toxic in large amounts, but to obtain a lethal dose you would have to eat 882lb (400kg) of carrots at once.: Instead of an apple, a carrot for teacher?:An apple for teacher is the clichAd present, but how would they cope with a cancer-battling carrot? We asked Merthyr schoolmistress, Gail Clifford. During 37 years of teaching at Gwaunfarren Primary School in Merthyr Tydfil, Gail Clifford, pictured, has received plenty of fruit from pupils.

The infant class teacher said getting apples from children is not just a clichA.

But she has never had a carrot. 'If I did I would say, 'Thank you very much', and I would cut it to show the children because some of them need to be shown the sorts of fruits and vegetables they can eat,' she said. 'It makes them feel good to bring something for their teacher.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 9, 2005
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