Like apples, pears (Pyrus communis) are a member of the Rosaceae family. Pears contain some dietary fiber, copper, vitamin C and vitamin K. Pears also contain phloretin, chlorogenic acid and quercetin. Pears have low antixodant activity compared to most other fruits and, with the exception of phloretin, contain only low levels of compounds that have been associated with lower risk of breast cancer. Most of the beneficial compounds found in pears are concentrated in the skins. Pears may reduce the risk of stroke and have cholesterol-lowering activities, in addition to ameliorating insulin resistance.
Cancer-related effects of eating pears
Phloretin, a component of apples and to some extent, pears, has been found to inhibit growth and induce apoptosis in human melanoma, leukemia, liver and colon cancer cells in the laboratory. Phloretin has also been shown to increase the anti-cancer effects of the chemotherapy drug Taxol (paclitaxel). Consumption of pears has been found to be associated with lower risks head and neck, esophageal, lung, gastric and colorectal cancer in epidemiological studies. One small Swiss population study found that consumption of pears was associated with lower risk of breast cancer.
As noted above, pear skins contain far more biologically active compounds than the flesh. However, non-organic pears must be washed very thoroughly to remove pesticide residue as much as possible.
Prickly pears or cactus pears are a type of cactus unrelated to pears.
Below are links to recent studies concerning this food. For a more complete list of studies, please click on pear.