Berry Gives Boost to Cervical Cancer Therapy

Source: University of Missouri School of Medicine

Summary: Researchers studied in vitro human cancer cells to show that combining blueberry extract with radiation therapy can increase the treatment’s effectiveness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12,000 women in the U.S are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. The most common form of treatment available for cervical cancer is radiation. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays and other particles such as gamma rays to destroy cancer cells. But radiation therapy destroys healthy cells along with cancer cells. Based on previous research, researchers studied blueberry extract to verify it could be used as a radiosensitizer. Radiosensitizers are non-toxic chemicals that make cancer cells more responsive to radiation therapy. Blueberries contain a compound resveratrol (a phenol, could be used as a radiosensitizer). Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine studied invitro human cancer cells to show that combining blueberry extract with radiation therapy can increase the treatment’s effectiveness. The study findings were published in the journal Pathology & Oncology Research.

blueberry extract with radiation therapy can increase the treatment effectiveness

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The research team used human cervical cancer cell lines to mimic clinical treatment. The cell lines were divided into 4 groups that included a control group; a group that received only radiation; a group that received only blueberry extract’ and a group that received both radiation and the extract. The study results reported were, radiation decreased cancer cells by approximately 20%. Interestingly, the cell group that received only blueberry extract had a 25% decrease in cancer. However, the biggest decline in cancer cells occurred in the radiation and extract group, with a decrease of about 70%. Researchers said that along with reducing cell proliferation, the extract also ‘tricks’ cancer cells into dying. So it inhibits the birth and promotes the death of cancer cells.

Prof. Yujiang Fang said, Blueberries are very common and found all over the world”, “They are readily accessible and inexpensive. As a natural treatment option for boosting the effectiveness of existing therapies, I feel they would be enthusiastically accepted.”

More Information: Kristoffer T. Davidson et al, “Blueberry as a Potential Radiosensitizer for Treating Cervical Cancer”, Pathology & Oncology Research (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s12253-017-0319-y

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