Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Red Raspberries: An All-Natural Cancer Preventative?

In this week's featured healthy natural ingredient, we'll be taking a closer look at a very common berry, the red raspberry. More specifically, we'll be talking about the value of including berries in your diet because of the benefits of the ellagitannins derived from them. This recommendation was based on work being done at the Hollings Cancer Institute by Dr. Daniel Nixon, who had been studying the benefits of red raspberries for some 6 years at that time. Since then, two things have changed dramatically.
  • First, the study results are now becoming, for lack of a better word, remarkable.
  • Second, it is now possible to get high quantities of ellagitannins without having to consume a cup of berries every day.
Dr. Nixon's published results show:
  • Consuming one cup of red raspberries per day (40 mg of ellagitannins) prevents the development of cancer cells. At low concentrations, it slows the growth of cancer cells; at higher concentrations, it tells cancer cells to kill themselves. For example, cells infected with the human papilloma virus (which is linked to cervical cancer), when exposed to ellagic acid experienced apoptosis, or normal cell death. Note: although ellagic acid alone has been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis in vitro (in a test tube with isolated cancer cells), several studies have reported that the other phenolic compounds in the berries also contribute to the observed inhibitory effect. Those compounds are only present in a complete ellagitannin complex, not in a synthetic ellagic acid isolate. In other words, an ellagitannin complex works better than pure ellagic acid.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins slow the growth of abnormal colon cells in humans.
  • Tests reveal similar results for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, and prostate cancer cells. The ellagitannins also produce a breakdown in human leukemia cells.
  • Another way that ellagitannins protect your body is through G-Arrest. G-Arrest means that the ellagitannins stop cells from mutating in the first place. If cells don't mutate, then we don't get cancer. This is very important when you understand that that every single day of your life you produce anywhere from a few hundred to as many as 10,000 cancerous cells in your body as part of your normal metabolism. In tests conducted by the Hollings Cancer Institute with Ellagic Acid, G-Arrest began in 72 hours in both breast and cervical cancer.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins prevent destruction of the P53 gene by cancer cells. P53 prevents mutagenic activity in cervical cells.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins protect human cells against cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke, food additives, and petroleum-based substances. Ellagitannins act as scavengers to "bind" cancer-causing chemicals, making them inactive. The ellagitannins inhibit the ability of other chemicals to cause mutations in bacteria. Red Raspberry ellagitannins also protect DNA by blocking carcinogens from binding to the DNA.
  • European medical studies also demonstrate that red raspberry ellagitannins lower the incidence of birth defects, promote wound healing, reduce heart disease, and may reduce or reverse chemically induced liver fibrosis. In addition, the ellagic acid produced from the ellagitannins has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Which brings us to the question of how to supplement with red raspberries. To be sure, Dr. Nixon used 1 cup of red raspberry puree per day in his studies. However, that is not practical for most people. Fortunately, it turns out the raspberry seeds have a much higher concentration of ellagitannins than the puree.

Seeds Pulp Whole
Meeker 8.40 3.36 4.31
Chilliwack 7.78 2.58 3.39
Willamette 8.13 2.05 2.91
Average 8.10 2.66 3.54

As you can see in the above table from the Washington State Red Raspberry Commission, over 70% of the ellagitannins present in the Meeker red raspberry are found in the seeds.

Bottom Line

One gram of red raspberry seed powder, taken twice a day, provides 40 mg of ellagitannins -- equivalent to the amount of ellagitannins found in one cup of fresh red raspberries.

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