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Black Raspberries May Protect Against Colorectal Cancer


Previous studies have named black raspberries in the fight against esophageal cancer and skin cancer. Now researchers are suggesting that these tasty berries may help protect against colorectal cancer.

Black raspberries show anticancer potential

In a study conducted by investigators at the University of Illinois at Chicago, two strains of mice were studied, each of which had a specific gene knocked out which caused them to develop either colitis (which can contribute to the development of colorectal cancer) or intestinal tumors. The mice were fed one of two diets for 12 weeks: a Western-type diet (high-fat, low in vitamin D and calcium), which is associated with colorectal cancer; or the same diet with a 10 percent freeze-dried black raspberry powder supplement.

Black raspberries are known to possess anticancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and in this study they appeared to demonstrate these abilities again. Mice that consumed the black raspberry supplement were protected against formation of colon, rectal, and intestinal tumors.

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Specifically, in the mice bred to develop intestinal tumors, the black raspberry supplement reduce tumor incidence by 45 percent and the number of tumors by 60 percent. In the mice bred for colitis, black raspberries reduced tumor incidence and the number of tumors by 50 percent.

Black raspberries appear to inhibit the formation of tumors by suppressing beta-catenin, a protein that binds to the gene the scientists modified in the mice to form colorectal tumors. In the mice bred for colitis, the raspberries inhibited tumor development by reducing chronic inflammation.

Black raspberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, which give the berries much of their antioxidant and anticancer powers. Other berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, also contain anthocyanins, but at lower levels. Blueberries have been found to help protect against colitis and cancer, as well as possibly help with memory loss.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women, according to the National Cancer Institute. The study’s authors hope to get funding to begin clinical trials of black raspberries in humans to further the fight against this often deadly disease.

National Cancer Institute
University of Illinois at Chicago