Blueberries Prevent Bowel Cancer
A compound in blueberries may be
good for preventing bowel cancer, US scientists believe.
The key ingredient, pterostilbene, is a natural
antioxidant and mops up highly reactive molecules called free
radicals that can trigger cancer growth.
Similar antioxidants have already been identified
in grapes and red wine, the American Chemical Society heard.
Other work, also in mice, suggests pterostilbene
may be good for lowering blood cholesterol too.
The researchers, from Rutgers University and
the US Department of Agriculture, suggest the compound could be
put into a pill.
Lead author Dr Bandaru Reddy said that, in the
meantime, their work showed the need to include more berries in
the diet, "especially blueberries."
Rats given a cancer-causing agent but then fed
pterostilbene had far fewer pre-cancers in their bowels than other
The blueberry compound also reduced inflammation
and the rate of cell division in the bowel, which are both considered
to be cancer risk factors.
Although experts do not know the exact causes
of colon cancer, the disease has been linked to a high intake
of saturated fats and calories.
Dr Reddy and colleagues believe pterostilbene
may be able to reverse this process, possibly by lowering fat
levels like cholesterol.
Experts already recommend eating plenty of fruit
and vegetables - at least five portions a day - to guard against
cancer and other diseases.
Pterostilbene is also found in cranberries, sparkleberries,
lingonberries and grapes.
Ed Yong of Cancer Research UK said: "While pterostilbene
could lower the risk of bowel cancers in rats, it is unclear if
it will produce the same benefits in humans.
"More research will help to determine whether
this chemical could have a role in the fight against cancer."
"For the moment, the best advice is to eat a
healthy, balanced diet rather than rely on specific 'superfoods,'"