Chemotherapy and ice cream: the amazing trick of scientists to relieve the effects of treatment

Chemotherapy and ice cream the amazing trick of scientists to

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    Eating ice cream to fight a side effect of chemotherapy. The idea seems absurd, and yet: it has just been rewarded at the 32nd Ig Nobel ceremony.

    After wild eggplant – acclaimed last year as an anti-cancer treatment – make way for ice cream! On September 15, 2022, the 32nd Ig Nobel ceremony (a parody Nobel Prize ceremony) awarded a very special prize to Polish researchers for their work on ice cream. According to their work, eating ice cream could indeed counter one of the side effects of chemotherapy.

    Oral mucositis: a common side effect of chemotherapy

    The study by the Polish researchers, published in November 2021 in the journal Scientific Reportspraises the positive effects of ice cream on a very common side effect linked to melphalan-based chemotherapy: mucositis or oral mucositis.

    This inflammation of the oral mucosa, which occurs in half of patients treated with chemotherapy, can cause simple discomfort but also pain, ulceration and sometimes even an inability to eat. To prevent the appearance of this inconvenience, cryotherapy is often used.

    The hospital cafeteria mobilized for research

    The scientists therefore used this approach – cold – to offer 52 patients a test using sorbets and ice creams, available in the cafeteria of the hospital where they were being treated. Concretely, the patients had to eat an ice cream at the start of chemotherapy, then three others during the treatment. The choice of perfumes was free.

    Patients were also free to take ice again at their convenience. Only the way they ate the ice cream had to be respected: it had to melt gently in the mouth so that the cold had time to act.

    In parallel, the control group of 22 participants was deprived of ice cream.

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    Only 15 out of 52 patients developed oral mucositis

    Result: only 15 out of 52 patients suffered from oral mucositis in the group consuming ice cream (28.8%) against 13 out of 22 in the other group (59.1%)

    Rather positive results, despite a panel of participants too small to guarantee the reliability of the results.

    However, the study corresponds perfectly to the philosophy of the Ig Nobel: “to make people laugh and then think”.