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Apple Protection

July 26, 2006

Do apples really help keep doctors away?


How apples protect cells. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Recently, researchers at the University of California at Davis put apples to the test. Immunologist Eric Gershwin and his colleagues put cardiovascular cells in a test tube and tried to harm them.

ERIC GERSHWIN (University of California at Davis):
We stressed these cells in the same way you might stress them if you went to one of these horrendous fast food places. We didn’t add burgers and fries, obviously, but it’s a similar sort of inflammatory response.

What they used was a chemical called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, which can start a chain reaction that kills cells. But an apple extract prevented this by disrupting TNF’s signaling capabilities. Since TNF is involved in arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions, the study suggests that apples might offer some protection from these maladies.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.