The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 12000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. The treatment approach for cervical cancer is radiation therapy, but it also destroys nearby healthy cells. The researchers of the University of Missouri School of Medicine studied the in vitro human cancer cells, which showed that the blueberry extract combined with radiation improves the treatment of cervical cancer.
Yujiang Fang, M.D., Ph.D., visiting professor at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study told that "The high energy X-rays are used in radiation therapy, but for late-stage cancers, radiation therapy is recommended however collateral damage is caused to healthy cells.
The research verified blueberry extract could be used as a radiosensitizer. Radiosensitizers are the non-toxic chemicals that make cancer cells more responsive to radiation therapy. Fang and his fellow researchers showed that resveratrol (a compound found in red grapes) could be used as a radiosensitizer to treat prostate cancer. Blueberries are also the source of resveratrol.
Blueberries also contain flavonoids which are the chemical compounds that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Human cervical cancer cell lines were used to mimic the clinical treatment which was divided into four groups which included a group that received only radiation, a control group, a group that received both radiation and the extract and a group that received only blueberry extract.