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2022 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine: ice cream can prevent oral mucositis in patients undergoing autologous HSCT


The 2022 Ig Nobel Prizes* were awarded at the 32nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, on September 15, 2022. Ten new Ig Nobel prizes were awarded for things that make people laugh, then think. 

A team of scientists at the University of Warsaw in Poland received the Medicine Prize for showing that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they suffer fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces one traditional component of the procedure. 

Ice cream was effective as cryotherapy and can be used in treating oral mucositis (OM) - instead of ice chips or ice cubes . OM is a common side effect in patients receiving high dose melphalan after autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and can be severe. Patients who received ice cream as popsicles during melphalan infusion had a lower incidence of mucositis and almost no grade III and IV mucositis. 

"Ice creams are commonly used in patients who already have mucositis - we used them to prevent one. We tried different ones - chocolate, fruit popsicles and sorbets. Basically every type works - as long as the patients receive it. After the procedure many patients would remember not the chemo, but the ice cream. I think the most important thing is to remind us that simple things such as cryotherapy have an impact on patients' wellbeing after chemotherapy" said Profesor Emilian Snarski.

The results of this prize winning study were published on November 18, 2021 in Scientific Reports (Nature):
Ice-cream used as cryotherapy during high-dose melphalan conditioning reduces oral mucositis after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
Authors: Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław W. Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz W. Basak & Emilian Snarski

* The Ig Nobel Prize is a satiric prize, organized by the scientific humor magazine, Annals of Improbable Research. It has been awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. Its aim is to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." The name of the award is a pun on the Nobel Prize, which it parodies, and on the word ignoble ("not noble"). (Source Wikipedia: