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Black raspberries may prevent colon cancer

Black raspberries may prevent colon cancer Study shows up to 60% reduction in number of tumours

Black raspberries are known to have a range of beneficial effects on our health, and now a new study has found that they can provide a measure of protection against the formation of colorectal tumours - at least in mice.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the UK with 38,000 new cases diagnosed each year in England alone.

Scientists from University of Illinois at Chicago decided to investigate the potential anti-tumour properties of black raspberries as a simple method to prevent the development of the disease.

"We saw the black raspberry as a natural product, very powerful, and easy to access," said senior author Dr. Wancai Yang.

Study details

Two genetically engineered strains of mice were used. The first strain was designed so that it would be likely to develop intestinal tumours and the second strain was pre-disposed to the development of colitis, an inflammation of the bowel.

The mice in both strains were fed a "standard" high-risk western diet high in fat, but a random selection were also provided with a supplement of freeze-dried black raspberry powder for 12 weeks, amounting to 10% of their food intake.

Protective effects of black raspberries

The researchers found that in both mouse strains the black raspberry-supplemented diet produced a broad range of protective effects in the intestine, colon and rectum and helped prevent the formation of tumours.

The mice designed to develop tumours saw a 60% reduction in the number of tumours, and a 45% reduction in the number of mice that actually developed any tumours at all. In these cases the researchers found that black raspberries worked by suppressing a protein which acts to increase the chances of developing a tumour.

In the second set of mice the raspberries reduced the number and incidence of tumours by 50%, mainly be reducing the chronic inflammation associated with colitis.

The results of the study are published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

This article was published on Wed 3 November 2010

Image © Jiri Hera - Fotolia.com

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