The insecticide and fungicide compound found naturally in avocadoes (persin) may damage the DNA of normal cells as well as cancer cells.
Image thanks to YinYang.
Published just last year, an in vitro evaluation of the genotoxicity of avocado fruit in human white blood cells. This study was not funded by the avocado commission; maybe its Big Salsa trying to muscle in on the guac market.
A simple experiment. They took normal human cells. And the easiest way to get human cells is to just take a blood sample. It's kind of the easy way out—that's what I did for my research work at Cornell.
Then they took some avocado fruit, smooshed it up, dripped a tiny bit on some healthy human white blood cells, and looked to see if they could detect any DNA damage. It was not subtle. This is what normal healthy human chromosomes look like. This is your DNA; this is DNA on guacamole. Chromosomes literally broken in half, terminal deletions, dysjunctions, translocation, all sorts of weird chromosomal abnormalities. This is the kind of thing carcinogens do.
Conclusion: Their study suggests that extracts of avocado fruit can potentially indusce significant genomic instability and some genetic damage in human white blood cells.
Why do they say potentially—we could see it with our own eyes. Because it was an in vitro evaluation. These were human cells, but they were outside the body. Even people that love guacamole don’t shoot it up like heroin, you eat it. So before it can affect our blood cells it hits stomach acid. Then digestive enzymes. Then our liver is a carcinogen detoxifying machine! And only then, do food compounds get to circulate throughout our body.
So, we don’t know what happens when when we eat it, but if the same effect occurs on body cells in vivo, meaning inside the body, then it could result in loss of function, cell death or transformation into cancer. And if it did the same thing to our sperm or eggs, it could lead to infertility, abortions, miscarriages, or birth defects.
The bottom line we don’t know what avocado consumption can do inside the body, but until the jury is in, I think it’s reasonable, given these new data, for people to consider reducing their intake.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out Are avocados good for you? Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!
See also yesterday's "prequel" Are Avocados Good for You?
For the follow-up, see Any update on the scary in vitro avocado data?
For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Tarragon Toxicity?