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Black raspberries

Research Reveals 'Berry Gel' Solution for Cancer

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 by: Michael Jolliffe
Tags: black raspberries, anti-cancer foods, health news

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(NewsTarget) A gel made from black raspberries could be a major breakthrough in the treatment of oral cancer, according to scientists from Ohio State and Kentucky Universities. In a collaborative study between both institutions, 20 patients with pre-cancerous lesions were asked to apply a solution containing freeze-dried raspberries suspended in KY jelly to their lesions four times daily for six weeks. At the end of the trial, a number of patients were found to have reversed their condition, while more than half had made significant improvements.

"It's very tantalising", said Dr Susan Mallery, professor for the College of Dentistry at Ohio State University, "the berry formulation is having a positive effect at the molecular level, changing enzymes and proteins". The components thought to have this positive effect are called anthocyanins, plant compounds that give the berries their deep colour, and which have previously demonstrated strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is thought by scientists to drive many of the processes that allow cancer to progress. Commenting on previous research, in which the same berry solution was shown to slow down the growth of skin cancer in mice, Dr Anne VanBuskirk of Ohio State's College of Medicine expressed her surprise that "in terms of shutting down the inflammatory response, we've never seen anything like it".

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year, equivalent to more than 80 diagnoses every day. Current treatment for the condition is often limited to surgery and radiotherapy, which can lead to the need for reconstructive surgery, and permanent disfigurement. Additionally, the odds of the condition recurring are high.

A larger trial, involving several different cancer centres, is planned, while a gel product is currently going through final stage approval processes and may be available in stores next year.


About the author

Michael Jolliffe is a freelance writer based in Oxford, UK.


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