October 12/Portland, Maine/HealthNewsDigest -- New research shows that eating blueberries may have the potential to make a significant difference in the growth and spread of a difficult-to-treat type of breast cancer that affects thousands of people each year.

The research, conducted by City of Hope researchers Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., and Lynn Adams, Ph.D., and published in The Journal of Nutrition, focused on an aggressive type of cancer known as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

In preliminary studies, the laboratory demonstrated that blueberry extract exhibited anti-tumor activity against triple negative breast cancer cells in vitro. The researchers have now completed further studies demonstrating that whole blueberry powder in the diet of lab mice also successfully slowed the growth and spread of triple negative breast cancer cells. The researchers noted that blueberries are rich in bioactive substances such as flavonoids and proanthocyanidins and possess “potent antioxidant potential,” which may be beneficial to the prevention of cancer.

Using TNBC cultures, Chen and Adams discovered a decrease in proliferation and mobility in TNBC cells and a rate of cell death (apoptosis) of TNBC cells at over twice the rate of untreated cells.

When the blueberry diet was tested in lab animals, the results were similar: TNBC tumor volume was 75% lower in the mice fed the 5% blueberry diet than in the control group; TNBC cell proliferation was significantly lower; and the rate of TNBC cell death was higher.

Next, Chen and Adams hope to move into clinical trials to study the effect blueberries have on TNBC in humans.

From the October 13, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.