Saturday, November 19, 2011

Health Benefits Of Blueberries For Fighting Cancer

A report from researchers out of Southern California's City of Hope a leading cancer research center, suggests the health benefits of blueberries in powder form might encourage the shrinkage of one of the more aggressive forms of cancer, triple negative breast cancer. This form of disease includes about 10-20% of all breast cancers and is defined when the cancer is not supported by hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, nor by the presence of higher numbers HER2 receptors. As you might imagine, there's intense interest in coming up with medications that can treat this form of deadly disease.
While anyone can get triple negative breast cancer, it tends to affect younger people (before age 40-50), African American or Hispanic women and those with the BRAC1 mutation.
Most often this type of breast cancer is treated with surgery, chemo and/or radiation. Depending on the cancer stage and grade, your healthcare team will advise you on the best course of treatment. Of course, it's always smart to be your own advocate, and stay informed on your disease and the latest research.
The team searched for fruits that would be able to suppress the growth and migration of cells associated with triple negative breast cancer.
The team fed two groups of mice special diets that had 5% blueberry powder, 10% blueberry powder or a control diet. All the diets had a similar composition of nutrients, and the mice ate and drank about the same amounts, regardless of what diet group they were in.
The human equal of the 5% blueberry powder intake of the mice is about 2 cups of fresh blueberries.
The team saw that the 5% level showed the best results, cutting tumor size from 60% to 75%, suggesting to experts that there's a maximum amount of blueberries you need to consume to help bring down the size of these aggressive cancer tumors and keep this cancer from spreading throughout the body. This amount was not toxic to the mice or had enough calories to bring on weight gain or any other ill effect.
The researchers also conducted molecule studies on the tumors of the mice and saw significant differences between the blueberry eating mice and the control groups. There were genetic patterns known to be tied to inflammatory disease, and a proliferation and spread of the dangerous cancer cells.
No one knows just how blueberries work against this aggressive form of cancer. A likely candidate is the phytochemicals that are known to halt cancer spreading to other organs. The team hopes to evaluate the findings in people. Funding and the proper population to study are still to be decided. There's still no recommendation for how many blueberries women should eat each day.
Even though the study results come from work on lab animals, and therefore can't be directly applied to humans, there is still much value to such work. Mice are, after all, remarkably similar genetically to humans. Add to that the ability to control their environment, and their fairly short life cycles and you can see why these small animals are of such immense value to science.
Experts suggest that despite the health benefits of blueberries, you don't pick one food, and eat it constantly - no matter how good it is for you. The best strategy is to eat a mixture of fruits and veggies to get the optimum benefits to health.

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