Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In the News: Black Raspberries May Slow Growth of Colon, Other Cancers

NEWSWISE (03/28/07) -- For several years, our laboratories have studied the ability of freeze-dried berries (black raspberries, strawberries and blackberries) to inhibit cancer in the esophagus, colon and oral cavity. Berries contain a number of agents that prevent cancer including vitamins A, C, and E; calcium and selenium; ß-carotene, α-carotene and lutein; and many phenolic compounds which have high anti-oxidant potential. The most abundant phenols are the anthocyanins which give berries their color. In general, dark berries have higher contents of anthocyanins and anti-oxidant potential than light berries. The addition of powdered berries at 5 and 10% of the diet of animals reduces their risk for development of cancer in the oral cavity, esophagus and colon by 45-80%.

Berries function to reduce the amount of genetic (DNA) damage produced in these tissues by chemical carcinogens, including carcinogens in tobacco smoke and in the diet. They also reduce the growth rate of precancerous cells, in part, by reducing the expression of genes associated with cell growth. Berries also inhibit the expression of other genes associated with cancer development including genes involved in inflammatory processes and in the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).

In a preliminary trial in humans, berries were found to be well tolerated at doses similar to those used in animals. They reduced cellular damage caused by oxidative radicals which is consistent with their anti-oxidant potential. In view of these results, several human clinical trials are ongoing to determine the ability of freeze-dried berries to inhibit the development of precancerous lesions in the oral cavity, esophagus and colon of humans. Preliminary results suggest that berries influence the expression of many of the same genes in humans as they do in animals. An apparent advantage of this “food-based” approach to disease prevention is the relative absence of toxicity associated with the long-term consumption of berries by humans.

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