Credit: © Sergii Mostovyi / Fotolia

Credit: © Sergii Mostovyi / Fotolia

Can blueberries help kill cervical cancer cells?

Can blueberries help kill cervical cancer cells? Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia aimed to find out more about it’s anti-cancer properties.

Don’t let the size fool you; blueberries are powerful. These little berries are packed with health benefits and nutrients. Popular from Asian to Mediterranean cuisines, blueberries provide great flavor, satisfying those sweet cravings. They are renowned as a super-food around the world, and in the United States, they are second in consumption only to strawberries.

According to the Conquer Cancer Foundation, an estimated 12,820 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. It is estimated that 4,210 deaths from the disease will occur this year.

Radiation is currently the primary treatment for treating cervical cancer.

“For some cancers, such as late stage cervical cancer, radiation is a good treatment option,” says lead study author Dr. Yujiang Fang. “However, collateral damage to healthy cells always occurs.”

In their study, the researchers aimed to find if blueberry extract could make radiation therapy more effective.

Blueberries are one of many berries packed with a compound called resveratrol, which is a potent anti-cancer compound.

The research team found that radiation therapy alone killed 20 percent of cancer cells, while blueberry extract alone reduced cancer cells by 25 percent.

However, what was amazing is that when radiation and the blueberry extract were combined, the number of cervical cancer cells was reduced by about 70 percent.

The researcher noted that the blueberry extract made cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy, and helped reduce abnormal cells growth that leads to cancer development.

Cancer cells avoid death by remodeling themselves,” continues Dr. Fang. “Along with reducing cell proliferation, the extract also ‘tricks’ cancer cells into dying. So it inhibits the birth and promotes the death of cancer cells.”

Dr. Fang concluded: “Blueberries are very common and found all over the world. They are readily accessible and inexpensive. As a natural treatment option for boosting the effectiveness of existing therapies, I feel they would be enthusiastically accepted.” 

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REFERENCES:
1. “How Blueberries Help to Kill Cancer Cells.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 3 Jan. 2018, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320517.php.

2. “Blueberry as a Potential Radiosensitizer for Treating Cervical Cancer.” SpringerLink, Springer Netherlands, 30 Sept. 2017, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12253-017-0319-y.
3. “Cervical Cancer: Statistics.” Cancer.Net, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 22 Sept. 2017, http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/cervical-cancer/statistics.
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