Juliet from Walkerville, South Australia, Australia asked:

Can lemons cure cancer?

I heard that lemon juice in the morning will help prevent cancer. Is that true?

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Our answer

No one food can prevent cancer – and lemons are no exception. A healthy diet including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is the best approach; there is some evidence that the combination of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals in plant foods can reduce the risk of cancer. Lemons and other citrus fruits contain a particular type of plant phytochemical called limonoids – they are the compounds which are partly responsible for the bitter citrus taste. There is some laboratory evidence that concentrated limonoids may affect the development of cancer cells. However, the test tube isn’t the real world, and there is no evidence that simply including lemon juice – in the morning, or any other time – has the same possible cancer-reducing effect. Lemons, like many other fruits are a rich source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin. Antioxidants may be important in halting cancer development – once again research in the laboratory and in animals suggests antioxidants may have an effect, but studies in people are not clear and more research is needed. Overall, lemons are a great addition to a healthy diet – their juice adds flavour and interest to many foods and drinks. And while they contain many scientifically interesting phytochemicals, we are a long way from knowing in relation to cancer how important, or unimportant, these may turn out to be.  Cancer Council recommends two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day for good health.

This page was last updated on: June 20, 2012
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