Berries May Help Prevent Cancer

Eating berries may make gastrointestinal cancers less
likely, two new studies show.

The studies were presented yesterday in Chicago at the American Chemical
Society's national meeting.

Both studies included tests on rats, not people.

The first study comes from scientists including Gary Stoner, PhD, of Ohio
State University's internal medicine department.

In a lab, they prepared an extract made from black raspberries and added it
to the diet of rats that had been exposed to a cancer-causing substance.

Those rats developed up to 80% fewer colon tumors and 40% to 60% fewer
esophageal tumors than rats exposed to the same carcinogen that hadn't received
the raspberry extract.

Based on the findings, the scientists have begun tests in people with
Barrett's esophagus (a condition of the esophagus that increases risk of
esophageal cancer) and precancerous colon polyps. The results of those tests
aren't yet available.

Blueberries vs. Colon Cancer

The second study focused on pterostilbene, a compound found in blueberries,
cranberries, lingonberries, and grapes.

The researchers included Bandaru Reddy, PhD, research professor of chemical
biology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

They added pterostilbene to the diets of rats exposed to a cancer-causing
substance. Pterostilbene reduced the formation of precancerous colon growths in
those rats.

"This study underscores the need to include more berries in the diet,
especially blueberries," Reddy says in an American Chemical Society news

The amount of pterostilbene in berries varies, Reddy notes.

Berries can be part of a healthy diet. But it's too soon to count on berries
to prevent colon cancer.

The studies don't prove that berries prevent colon cancer or esophageal
cancer in people, and the researchers aren't blaming cancer on diet. A mix of
genetic and environmental factors likely affects cancer risk.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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