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Esophageal cancer strikes more than 18,000 Americans annually. It is among the more deadly forms of cancer, killing more than 80 percent of its victims within five years. So the news that a substance in a common fruit can stop this type of cancer offers remarkable promise.
According to lab research at the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center, black raspberries contain chemicals called anthocyanins that slow the growth of cancer cells and stimulate the cells to self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.
Anthocyanins are antioxidant pigments in plants that belong to a group of compounds called flavonoids. And while you probably know about the importance of vitamins for health, flavonoids may be just as crucial for protecting the body’s well-being as other more well-known nutrients.
“Our data provide strong evidence that anthocyanins are important for cancer prevention,” says researcher Gary D. Stoner, a professor of internal medicine,
In the tests, the Ohio State scientists fed lab animals either black raspberries or extracts of the raspberries that contained a concentrate of the anthocyanins. Both the extract and the whole raspberries exerted protective action against the deadly effects of esophageal cancer.
In further tests, the researchers are trying to develop more potent extracts that can attack the cancer.
“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,” says Stoner. “Ultimately, we hope to test the anthocyanins for effectiveness in multiple organ sites in humans.