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Eat Berries, Prevent Colon Cancer

A joint study by scientists at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that a compound in blueberries could prevent colon cancer in animals//.

The compound, pterostilbene, is a potent antioxidant that could be developed into a pill. Research shows that it caused fewer side effects than some commercial drugs that are currently used to prevent the disease. Colon cancer is considered the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

While recent studies have identified a growing number of antioxidants in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that show potential for fighting colon cancer, this is believed to be the first study to demonstrate the cancer-fighting potential of pterostilbene against the disease, the scientists say. Their findings were described today at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

'This study underscores the need to include more berries in the diet, especially blueberries,' says study leader Bandaru Reddy, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Chemical Biology at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. Although the blueberry compound won’t cure colon cancer, it represents a potential new and attractive strategy for preventing the disease naturally, says Reddy, a leading expert on nutritional factors that influence colon cancer development.

Along with scientists Nanjoo Suh, also of Rutgers, and Agnes Rimando of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Reddy and his associates conducted a small pilot study to determine the effect of pterostilbene on colon cancer. The study included 18 rats that were given a compound (azoxymethane) to induce colon cancer in a manner similar to human colon cancer development. Nine of the animals were then placed on a balanced daily diet, while the other nine were given the same diet supplemented with pterostilbene (at a level of 40 parts per million).

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