Researchers from the Medical University of Warsaw who found that eating ice cream can relieve oral inflammation in cancer patients have won an Ig Nobel Prize for their work.
Taking first place in the medicine category of the awards, the team discovered that ice cream can prevent the onset of oral mucositis, a common side effect in people who have undergone preventive chemotherapy.
The side effect can have an extremely negative effect on the quality of life of patients. The mouth, gums, and tongue may develop sores, saliva production increases, and swallowing may be difficult.
In extreme cases – especially when associated with nausea and vomiting common with chemotherapy and radiation therapy – eating is nearly impossible.
The Warsaw scientists found this could be avoided if patients slowly ate ice cream or popsicles during their melphalan infusions.
The study titled “Ice cream used as cryotherapy during high-dose melphalan conditioning reduces oral mucositis after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation” was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“We used ice cream to prevent mucosal damage caused by the very powerful chemotherapy used before bone marrow transplantation,” the scientists wrote.
One of the preventative strategies for oral mucositis is cryotherapy, which involves using extreme cold to freeze and remove abnormal tissue, usually the aspiration of ice shavings.
But patients don’t always fully comply with ice cryotherapy because it’s uncomfortable cold.
“We replaced it with ice cream – any ice cream the patient wanted to eat, for example Chocolate Magnum or Grycan’s ice cream. It turned out that the effect is very similar – only it is much more pleasant.
Researchers have observed that commercially available ice cream can not only prevent oral mucositis during melphalan infusion, but can also be used as a cost-effective, less cumbersome and easy-to-implement method in the prevention of oral mucositis.
Treatment with ice cream is particularly effective for childhood cancers, as children tend to respond better when ice cream is replaced with ice cream.
Polish scientists compiled data on 74 people, aged 58 on average, who underwent stem cell transplants as part of cancer treatment.
Only 28.85% of patients who underwent ice cream cryotherapy developed oral mucositis, compared to 59% of those who did not receive cryotherapy.
Each year, the ironic Ig Nobel Prizes, sometimes called the Anti-Nobels, celebrate the most unusual scientific research.
Although rewards are meant to be fun, research often has serious applications.
Normally, the Ig Nobel ceremony is held at the Sanders Theater at Harvard University, but this time, for the third time, because of the pandemic, it all took place online last Thursday evening.
The researchers who received the award are Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Michael Górka, Wieslaw Jędrzejczak, Anna Brodziak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Kamila Skwierawska, Grzegorz Basak and Emilian Snarski.
The awards are an alternative counterpart to the Nobel Prizes. It is awarded by the “Annals of Improbable Research” for scientific work that makes you laugh but at the same time makes you think.
The winners received cash prizes of 10 trillion Zimbabwe dollars, the equivalent of approximately US$4.