Blueberries are sometimes branded a “superfood,” and for good reason; they are packed full of antioxidants that offer a wealth of health benefits. Now, a new study has uncovered another use for these little berries: helping to treat cancer.
By studying human cervical cancer cell lines, a team of researchers discovered that adding blueberry extract to radiation therapy can significantly improve treatment efficacy.
Lead study author Dr. Yujiang Fang, who works in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and colleagues recently reported their results in Pathology and Oncology Research.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), around 12,820 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, and more than 4,200 women are expected to die from the disease.
Radiation therapy remains a primary treatment for cervical cancer. It involves using high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells.
“For some cancers, such as late stage cervical cancer, radiation is a good treatment option,” says Dr. Fang. “However, collateral damage to healthy cells always occurs.”
For their study, the researchers set out to determine whether or not blueberry extract could be used as a radiosensitizer, which is a compound that makes cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation therapy.