Combining blueberry extract with radiation therapy enhances cervical cancer treatment

Researchers at Columbia-based University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that using blueberry extract improves radiation therapy for cervical cancer patients. They published their findings in Pathology and Oncology Magazine.

To recreate clinical treatment, researchers used human cervical cancer cell lines. The lines were divided into four groups — one was a control group, the second received only radiation, the third received only blueberry extract and the fourth received both radiation and the blueberry extract.

According to Yujiang Fang, MD, PhD, a visiting professor at the UM School of Medicine and lead author of the study, the research team found "radiation decreased cancer cells by approximately 20 percent. Interestingly, the cell group that received only blueberry extract had a 25 percent decrease in cancer. However, the biggest decline in cancer cells occurred in the radiation and extract group, with a decrease of about 70 percent."

Thus, researchers noted that blueberry extract can be used as a radiosensitizer, which are non-toxic chemicals that make cancer cells more responsive to radiation therapy.

"Along with reducing cell proliferation, the extract also 'tricks' cancer cells into dying. So it inhibits the birth and promotes the death of cancer cells," said Dr. Fang.

The research team plans to perform an animal study next to confirm these findings.

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