Blueberries May Reduce Growth of Breast Cancer
Researchers have discovered yet another benefit associated with blueberries. Two separate experiments by a California-based team found that blueberry powder reduced breast cancer tumor size in mice by 60 to 75 percent compared with a control group, slowed the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice, and also reduced spread of the disease.
Blueberries are rich in beneficial flavonoids
Blueberries are widely studied for a variety of benefits, ranging from possibly protecting against inflammatory bowel disease, as reported in a recent study from China, to lowering blood pressure, improving brain health, and having a positive impact on bone health.
Now, researchers report that blueberry powder appears to be effective in the fight against breast cancer, at least in mouse models. In one experiment, three groups of mice were studied: controls (standard diet), diet plus 5% blueberry powder, and diet plus 10% blueberry powder for two weeks.
After two weeks, all the mice were injected with aggressive breast cancer cells. Six weeks later, investigators found that compared with controls, the mice that consumed the 5% blueberry diet showed a 75% reduction in tumor size while those that ate the 10% blueberry diet had a 60% reduction in tumor size.
The authors noted that “tumor volume was lower in the 5% blueberry diet than the 10% blueberry diet although this difference was not significant.” Blueberry powder also changed gene expression associated with inflammation, cancer, and metastasis in ways that cancer risk would likely decline, according to the study’s authors.
The second experiment involved control mice and mice fed a standard diet plus 5% blueberry powder. In this study, there was a significant decline in cancer spread and growth in mice that consumed the blueberry powder.
The benefits seen in this study and others are believed to be linked to the flavonoid content of blueberries, especially anthocyanins and flavanols. Of special interest is that the human equivalent of the amount of blueberry powder used for the mice is only about 2 cups of fresh blueberries daily.
The authors noted that “future clinical trials using whole blueberry powder are planned that will aid in the determination of a suitable human dose” in the fight against breast cancer. Until then, including blueberries as part of your diet could likely reap a variety of benefits.
Adams LS et al. Whole blueberry powder modulates the growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast tumors in nude mice. Journal of Nutrition 2011; doi: 10.3945/nj.111.140178
Brewer GJ et al. Age-related toxicity of amyloid-beta associated with increased pERK and pCREB in primary hippocampal neurons: reversal by blueberry extract. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2010 Oct; 21(10): 991-98
Wu LH et al. Protective effect of anthocyanins extract from blueberry on TNBS-induced IBD model of mice. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine 2011; 2011:525462
Zhang J et al. Feeding blueberry diets in early life prevent senescence of osteoblasts and bone loss in ovariectomized adult female rats. PLoS One 2011; 6(9): e24486
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons
Updated August 11, 2014