Blueberries are one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. Current research suggests that one of these antioxidants can effectively inhibit cancer cell growth.
Published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a groundbreaking study found that an antioxidant in blueberries called pterostilbene can prevent radiation-induced cancer cell growth and tumor formation in the liver.
The repercussions of conventional cancer treatments
Despite scientific advancements in cancer research and treatment, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The extensive use of radiation, steroids and other powerful drugs has caused cancer cells to become resistant, thus complicating treatment for patients.
Radiation therapy, a type of conventional cancer treatment, uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. However, existing radiation therapies often fail to eradicate the tumors themselves, thus resulting in disease relapse. Such is the case for radiation therapies against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver cancer, one of the most common types of cancer around the world.
Several cancer studies have also long since proven that radiation therapies tend to destroy healthy cells in the body, thus contributing to cellular damage and low patient survival rates. Because of this significant and harmful side effect, most of the ongoing research on cancer treatment focuses on mitigating cancer cell invasion without affecting other cells.
Pterostilbene as a cancer-fighting antioxidant
A team of researchers from Taipei Medical University and Academia Sinica in Taiwan found that the antioxidant pterostilbene found in grapes and blueberries can inhibit cancer cell invasion, a phenomenon linked to radiation exposure.
For the experiment, the team treated lab-grown HCC cancer stem cells with increasing concentrations of pterostilbene prior to gamma irradiation.
The researchers found that pterostilbene suppressed the proliferation of cancer stem cells due to irradiation. In fact, the number of pre-treated cancer stem cells was down to 0.7 percent compared to the 16.5 percent in the control group. This suggests that in high doses, pterostilbene can eliminate cancer cells completely.
In addition, pterostilbene disrupted the formation of tumors and induced apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in the cancer stem cells. All things considered, pterostilbene appeared to inhibit radiation-induced cancer cell growth and suppress tumor formation.
Based on their findings, the researchers thus concluded that pterostilbene in blueberries can reduce and eliminate cancer cells better than irradiation. The experiment also provided strong evidence that irradiation stimulated cancer cell invasion and tumor formation.
Proven health benefits of antioxidants in blueberries
Besides their cancer-fighting properties, the powerful antioxidants in blueberries are also hailed for their numerous health benefits. Here are some of them:
Blueberries enhance heart health
Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that prevent inflammation and cellular damage linked to cholesterol buildup. These antioxidants also help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Blueberries protect against sun damage
Anthocyanins also protect skin cells from cellular damage due to sun exposure, which can accelerate aging and trigger the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. Sun-damaged skin is also more susceptible to skin cancer and other skin conditions.
Blueberries prevent bone loss
Blueberries are also rich in polyphenols. These plant compounds have potent antioxidant properties that help maintain strong bones.
Blueberries improve cognitive health
Anthocyanins neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that damage brain cells and cause inflammation. (Related: Blueberries are bursting with various antioxidants that reduce the risk of dementia.)
Blueberries regulate blood sugar
Anthocyanins also guard against inflammation due to high blood sugar. These antioxidants also help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels after meals.
Blueberries have powerful antioxidants and plant compounds that make them one of the healthiest superfoods for the treatment and prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. Visit Blueberries.news to learn more.