Berry good news on treating cancer
HUMAN trials beginning this month on a blueberry-based drink will determine whether the compound can effectively inhibit the progress of prostate cancer.
Brisbane-based company Dr Red produces Blueberry Punch, which is made up of concentrates of blueberry, red grapes, raspberry and elderberry, as well as extracts of grape seeds and skin, citrus peel, green tea leaves, olive leaves, turmeric and ginger. The compound has already been found to be effective in-vitro at reducing cancer tumours, and the human trial results are eagerly awaited.
Urologist Dr John Yaxley, of the University of Sydney, is heading the human trials which will determine the efficacy of Blueberry Punch on cancer cells. Seventy-two men with prostate cancer will take part in three separate trials, drinking three glasses of Blueberry Punch each day, prior to standard treatment surgery, radiation or hormone therapy for the cancer.
As well as monitoring blood tests, researchers will also look at inflammation markers and the prostate tissue will be investigated to determine the product's efficacy. Initial results are expected at the end of this year.
The punch's creator, biochemist Greg Jardine, said it was hoped the drink would become part of a multi-targeted approach to treating prostate cancer.
Blueberry farmer Ridley Bell, owner of Mountain Blue Orchards at Lindendale, said there was much anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of blueberries and it was exciting that firm results might be imminent. “It's early days, but for some time it's been well-known that blueberries display impressive health benefits,” he said.
Mr Bell doubts the North Coast blueberry industry will experience an explosion in growth if the trials prove successful, saying would-be growers find blueberry farming too labour intensive.
“I've been in the business now for 34 years and in the mid-1980s there were 35 small local growers, but none of them exist now except for us,” he said.
“It's very difficult work, particularly during harvest season. When we only had a few acres and were doing it ourselves we found it exceptionally hard going. For that reason, I can't really see the industry taking off.”
Blueberries contain exceptionally high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants, while other touted health benefits include improved eyesight, slowing of the aging process, lowering cholesterol and improved gastro-intestinal health.