Blueberry compound neutralizes harmful free radicals, fights multiple cancer types
(Naturalhealth365) According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide each year. Thousands of women are told they need surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy – as a common treatment. Unfortunately, most cancer patients are never told about the better results from consuming blueberry compounds.
For example, recent research focused on assessing the nutritional and functional values of 65 different blueberry varieties. The researchers were particularly interested in anthocyanins, a class of bioactive compounds found in blueberries, and their potential effects on cancer cells. They examined how the Gardenblue blueberry variety, in particular, exhibited a high anthocyanin content and evaluated its antiproliferative effects on various cancer cell lines, including cervical, liver, breast, and lung cancer cells.
Blueberry extract combined with radiation can destroy the majority of cancer cells
In a related study, researchers set out to identify radiosensitizers, which are non-toxic natural substances that can enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy. Remarkably, blueberry extract has emerged as a leading candidate in this area, as showcased by a study demonstrating its potential to work in conjunction with radiation therapy, particularly in the context of cervical cancer treatment.
In this study of human cancer cells conducted at the University of Missouri, researchers found that combining blueberry extract with radiation increased the treatment’s effectiveness.
Study leader Yujiang Fang, M.D., Ph.D., an academic pathologist and assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, set the stage for the study with earlier research showing that resveratrol – a polyphenol found in red grapes as well as blueberries – could be utilized as a radiosensitizer to treat prostate cancer. Because blueberries are rich in other antioxidant polyphenols as well, the team was curious to see how a blueberry extract would perform.
Researchers divided the cells into four groups: a group that received only radiation, a group that received only blueberry extract, a group that received both, and a control group – which received neither.
The team found that radiation decreased cancer cells by 20 percent, while the blueberry extract group decreased by 25 percent. The biggest decline in cancer cells – 70 percent – was seen in the group that received both. Please understand, in no way are we suggesting that any person do radiation therapy … this would be a deeply personal choice, based on lots of thought and with the help of a trusted healthcare provider. (Having said that, keep reading!)
Blueberry extract was more effective than radiation
The focus of the study was the effect on cancer cells of a combination of blueberry extract and radiation. And the duo had a phenomenal success rate, destroying close to three-quarters of cancer cells.
But one wonders if another part of the story – the exciting results in which blueberry extract not only equaled but exceeded the effects of radiation – received proper attention. As you can guess, the answer is no.
Radiation has been the gold standard of treatment for cervical cancer. Yet natural, non-toxic blueberry extract was demonstrably more effective (in this study, at least) in killing cancer cells.
The team reported that the extract suppressed a pair of molecules, cyclin D and cyclin E, that encourage the cancerous transformation of cells. In addition to limiting cancer cell proliferation, the blueberry extract caused cells to undergo apoptosis, a type of programmed cell “suicide.”
And it accomplished this without causing any harmful side effects. (The same can’t be said of radiation, which can damage healthy surrounding cells along with the malignant ones – and cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bowel obstruction).
Professor Fang concluded that blueberry extract has potential as a natural treatment option to boost the effectiveness of existing therapies. This is really no surprise since we know that most conventionally trained researchers wouldn’t dare go against (or question) the “standards” of Western medical care like, chemotherapy and radiation.
This study is supported by earlier research
The study was not the first to show the cancer-fighting effects of blueberries.
In a review conducted by the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences at Florida State University, the authors noted that blueberries inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, helping defeat the formation of malignant tumors.
The authors also credited blueberries with combating oxidative stress and DNA damage, increasing apoptosis, and reducing cancer cell proliferation. Plus, other studies have shown that anthocyanins in blueberries slow the progression of cancer by blocking angiogenesis – the creation of new blood vessels to nourish tumors.
In a review published in 2016 in Antioxidants, researchers credited blueberries with inhibiting the growth of both colon cancer and prostate cancer cells.
Why blueberries are so effective at killing cancer and helping us avoid disease symptoms
The mildly-flavored, unassuming-looking blueberry is actually armed with a formidable arsenal of disease-fighting antioxidant plant compounds. These include phenolic acids, stilbenes, flavonoids, anthocyanins, resveratrol, and ellagic acid.
Anthocyanins have been shown in studies to suppress pro-inflammatory molecules such as interleukin and COX-2, while ellagic acid inhibits a signaling pathway associated with cancer development.
In an analysis of a study of 230 patients, researchers found that flavonoids in blueberries helped to protect against gastric and pancreatic cancer. Research also supports the ability of blueberries to protect against cancers of the breast, liver, prostate, and lung.
While the highest amounts of polyphenols are found in fresh, wild-grown blueberries, cultivated berries offer major benefits as well. Of course, you should always opt for organic berries to ensure that they are free of harmful chemical pesticides.
As a healthy tip: you can blend blueberries into smoothies, or eat them out of hand as a sweet, refreshing snack. If buying fresh blueberries is too inconvenient or costly, you can also obtain the benefits of blueberries in extracts or powder form.
Whether you consume fresh blueberries or a blueberry extract, you can be confident that you are accessing the benefits of one of nature’s most potent disease-fighting nutrients. The ability of blueberry extract to outperform radiation should serve to galvanize researchers to further explore the powers of this small but mighty food.
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