Margaret Cardow of Richmond Oysters in Ballina enjoys not only the taste of her oysters but the anti-cancer properties research has uncovered.
Margaret Cardow of Richmond Oysters in Ballina enjoys not only the taste of her oysters but the anti-cancer properties research has uncovered. Jay Cronan

Health benefits to eating oysters

NEW research demonstrating the anti-cancer properties of molluscs is no surprise to Margaret Cardow from Richmond Oysters.

The Ballina oyster farmer has long suspected the health benefits of consuming the tasty little morsels.

“This is something I’ve been meaning to do a bit of research on for a while but haven’t had time,” she said.

“There’s actually a doctor in Ballina who sends cancer patients over here to get their oysters.”

Molluscs make up a broad family that includes octopus, squid, oysters, clams, snails and slugs.

New research by Southern Cross University scientist Dr Kirsten Benkendorff is making waves throughout the scientific community based on the creatures’ potential for development as antiviral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer medicines.

“I have been investigating anti-cancer extracts from the Australian whelk for potential development as a novel alternative medicine,” Dr Benkendorff said.

“These extracts show selective activity against a wide range of solid tumours and lymphoma cell lines, but have minimal toxicity to normal healthy human cells.

“And with respect to oysters and abalone, these are regarded as healthy food with medicinal properties in many countries throughout the world and their blood has these interesting antiviral properties, so again there is potential for anti-cancer benefits from eating these kinds of molluscs.”

Dr Benkendorff presented her findings to the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra yesterday.

“From here, one of the major steps is to continue working through the clinical trials.

"We’ve done a short-term model that shows that it prevents early stage tumour formation and now we’re moving into longer-term models,” she said.

“First of all we want to demonstrate that it does prevent those tumours forming over a longer period of time but also to see if it treats an existing tumour.

"We’ve shown that it’s effective for prevention, the question now is whether it is a treatment.”



Oysters are the richest source of zinc you can consume.

100g of raw oysters contain 65mg.

Zinc is crucial to healthy immune function and also to male sexual functioning, including increased sperm count.

Prawns are low in fat but high in protein.

A 115g portion contains almost half the recommended daily protein needed.

They also have high levels of vitamin B12, zinc, iodine, phosphorous, potassium, selenium and iron and smaller quantities of calcium, magnesium and sodium.

Many of these vitamins are essential for healthy skin, bones and teeth.

Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

They are also crucial for brain function.

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