Possessing a navy hue and a powerful punch, the blueberry is one of the most potent and popular disease fighters available. Now, City of Hope researchers have found another weapon to add to the blueberry’s arsenal of disease-fighting properties: the ability to control tumor growth, decrease metastasis and induce cell death in triple-negative breast cancer cells.
Results of a recent study build further evidence for the cancer-fighting power of blueberries. The so-called “super food” showed significant activity against breast tumors, according to City of Hope scientists who reported their research in The Journal of Nutrition.
Blueberries have long been deemed a potent part of the diet because of the brightly colored compounds called flavonoids and proanthocyanidins they contain.
Previous studies have shown that these compounds can affect growth and death in healthy cells as well as fight damaging chemical byproducts called free radicals. Scientists thought that these abilities might mean the compounds could be effective against cancer as well.
Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology at City of Hope and senior author on the paper, has shown in past studies that blueberry juice could inhibit cancer cell survival and growth in the lab.
The latest research went one step further and tested concentrated blueberry powder against aggressive cancer cells in mice.
Chen and the team performed two studies. In the first study, the scientists fed three groups of mice a diet that contained either no blueberry powder, low levels of blueberry powder or high levels of it.
They found that tumor size decreased significantly in mice fed blueberry powder compared to similar mice that ate no blueberry. Importantly, molecular analysis showed that blueberry consumption altered expression of genes important to inflammation, cancer and metastasis (spread of cancer) in way that would lower cancer risk.
The second study compared cancer metastasis, or spread, among mice fed blueberry to metastasis in mice that ate no blueberry. Like the first study, the results showed a significant decrease in metastasis in mice that ate blueberry powder compared to those that did not.
Based on these promising results, further studies are being carried out to study blueberries' cancer-fighting abilities and its potential in preventing or treating breast cancer in women.
In the video below, Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., talks about his research into blueberries' cancer-fighting abilities