Researchers Isolate Cancer Protective Ingredient in Black Raspberries

Black Raspberries have great potential for protecting us from cancer, according to a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Anthocyanins, found in black raspberries are powerful flavonoids that in the lab protected rats from cancer of the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer can occur anywhere there is damage to the cells that line the esophagus. Risk factors include advanced age, male gender, a history of Barrett’s esophagus, GERD, alcohol and tobacco use, obesity, and consuming a diet low in fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin A and C.

According to Gary D. Stoner, Ph.D., a professor in the department of internal medicine at Ohio State University, "Our data provide strong evidence that anthocyanins are important for cancer prevention." Stoner hopes to find a standard mixture of anthocyanins that can be used to prevent cancer in humans.

The researchers fed rats an anthocyanin rich extract of black raspberry powder in lab studies. They also conducted previous trials using as much as 60 grams of the berry powder extract in humans with promising results, finding that the extract was as potent as that found in whole black raspberries. Dr. Stoner explains, "Now that we know the anthocyanins in berries are almost as active as whole berries themselves, we hope to be able to prevent cancer in humans using a standardized mixture of anthocyanins."

Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop a product derived from black raspberries that can be delivered to the tissues in the body, providing maximum effect for cancer prevention in humans. In the lab, the scientists discovered that esophageal cancer growth as inhibited when the rats were given whole black raspberries.

Stoner says, "The goal is to potentially replace whole berry powder with its active components and then figure out better ways to deliver these components to tissues, to increase their uptake and effectiveness. Ultimately, we hope to test the anthocyanins for effectiveness in multiple organ sites in humans."

Previous studies from Dr. Stoner and colleagues, published August 2008 in Cancer Research, showed that black raspberry powder, used in conjunction with another cancer-preventing agent, regulated gene expression, restoring cancerous cells in the esophagus of rats to normal.

The new research again shows that natural compounds found in black raspberries may be a powerful addition for cancer prevention in humans. The study is among the first lab studies to show that anthocyanins, found in black raspberries, can prevent cancer.

Chemopreventive Agents in Black Raspberries Identified