Beat back cancer with blueberries

If you’ve been reading my Health eTips for a while now, you know that I tend to recommend the “active surveillance” approach for many early-stage tumours. But if and when your cancer reaches a later stage, though, “watching and waiting” may no longer be enough. And while radiation can kill off the cancer cells, it can wipe out a lot of your healthy cells in the process.

That can leave you feeling sicker than you felt before you started treatment!

But according to a new study, there’s something natural that can soften the blow of radiation and enhance its effectiveness at the same time — and it just so happens to be a fruit.

I’m talking about blueberries.

In a study out of the University of Missouri, researchers divided human cervical cancer cells into four treatment groups:

  • radiation alone
  • blueberry extract alone
  • radiation with blueberry extract
  • nothing (as a control)

Radiation alone decreased the number of cancerous cells by 20 per cent, and that’s not bad. I think anyone with a tumor growing inside of them would take any reduction they could get.

But here’s where it gets interesting — because blueberry extract alone did even better, decreasing the number of cancerous cells by 25 per cent.

Still, that’s only a slight edge — though anything that can take down existing cancerous cells and prevent the birth of new ones is certainly promising.

But the results were even more stunning when the researchers put blueberries and radiation together: The combined treatments reduced the number of cancerous cells by a staggering 70 per cent!

The theory is that blueberries can act as “radiosensitizers,” which means that they can make rogue cells more responsive to radiation while having a protective effect on normal cells, for an all-around better outcome.

That makes sense to me, since we know that the resveratrol in the skin of red grapes works in the same way to fight prostate cancer.

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the blueberry can be mighty against cancer. Previous studies have shown that certain compounds in blueberries called anthocyanins can kill off breast cancer cells.

And since blueberries also contain flavonoids with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, they may slash your risk of cancer to begin with by protecting cells from damage caused by everything from aging to toxins.

You’ll gain a bushel of other health benefits, too, as studies have shown that this “super” berry can also keep blood vessels healthy… protect against cognitive decline… and lessen your risk of stroke.

So, whether you’re fighting cancer or want to prevent it, try adding blueberries to your meals — from smoothies at breakfast, to salads at lunch, to Greek yoghurt for a snack or dessert. Just make sure they’re organic.

You can also find blueberry extract in liquid, powder, or capsule form in the supplement aisle.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing

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How blueberries help to kill cancer cells, published online, 3 January 2018,

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