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Blueberries may improve radiotherapy for cervical cancer

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | January 03, 2018
Rad Oncology Radiation Therapy Women's Health
70 percent reduction in
cancer cells
Blueberries could be the secret ingredient to improving radiation therapy for cervical cancer patients.

A research team at the University of Missouri School of Medicine found that the berry's extract could be used as a radiosensitizer to make cancer cells more responsive to radiation therapy.

About 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and radiation is standard treatment.

"We decided to study blueberries because they contain resveratrol, which has been shown by my lab to be an effective radiosensitizer," Dr. Yujiang Fang, visiting professor at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study, told HCB News.

The fruit also contains flavonoids, which are chemicals that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

As part of a study, the team used cervical cancer cell lines to imitate clinical treatment. They divided the cell lines into four groups — control group, radiation group, blueberry extract group and group that received the radiation and extract.

They found that the radiation-only group and extract-only group experienced a 20 percent and 25 percent reduction in cancer cells, respectively. The group that received both experienced a decrease of about 70 percent.

The researchers noted that the mechanism that makes blueberry extract a radiosensitizer also reduces the abnormal explosion of cell growth, which is the cause of cancer.

Going forward, the team plans to conduct an animal study to confirm these findings.

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