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Black Raspberries versus Oral Cancer

Black raspberries may cause complete clinical regression of precancerous oral lesions (oral intraepithelial neoplasia).

May 17, 2013 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

C. Han, H. Ding, B. Casto, G. D. Stoner, S. M. D'Ambrosio. Inhibition of the growth of premalignant and malignant human oral cell lines by extracts and components of black raspberries. Nutr Cancer 2005 51(2):207 - 217

S. E. Rosenquist. Is oral sex really a dangerous carcinogen? Let's take a closer look. J Sex Med 2012 9(9):2224 - 2232

T. Upile, W. Jerjes, M. Al-Khawalde, H. Radhi, H. Sudhoff. Oral sex, cancer and death: Sexually transmitted cancers. Head Neck Oncol 2012 4:31

S. R. Mallery, J. C. Zwick, P. Pei, M. Tong, P. E. Larsen, B. S. Shumway, B. Lu, H. W. Fields, R. J. Mumper, G. D. Stoner. Topical application of a bioadhesive black raspberry gel modulates gene expression and reduces cyclooxygenase 2 protein in human premalignant oral lesions. Cancer Res. 2008 68(12):4945 - 4957

B. S. Shumway, L. A. Kresty, P. E. Larsen, J. C. Zwick, B. Lu, H. W. Fields, R. J. Mumper, G. D. Stoner, S. R. Mallery. Effects of a topically applied bioadhesive berry gel on loss of heterozygosity indices in premalignant oral lesions. Clin. Cancer Res. 2008 14(8):2421 - 2430

K. G. H. Desai, K. F. Olsen, S. R. Mallery, G. D. Stoner, S. P. Schwendeman. Formulation and in vitro-in vivo evaluation of black raspberry extract-loaded PLGA/PLA injectable millicylindrical implants for sustained delivery of chemopreventive anthocyanins. Pharm. Res. 2010 27(4):628 - 643

K. K. Marques, M. H. Renfroe, P. B. B. Brevard, R. E. Lee, J. W. Gloeckner. Differences in antioxidant levels of fresh, frozen and freeze-dried strawberries and strawberry jam. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2010 61(8):759 - 769

T. Byers, M. Nestle, A. McTiernan, C. Doyle, A. Currie-Williams, T. Gansler, M. Thun. American Cancer Society Guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: Reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin 2002 52(1):92 -119

Acknowledgements

Images thanks to Bernie via Wikimedia Commons and Marisa | Food in Jars, Rob Ireton and Chiot's Run.

Transcript

More berried treasure: A story similar to the strawberries and esophageal cancer revelation has emerged with black raspberries and oral cancer. Again it started with in-vitro studies. Oral cancer is one of the 10 most common cancers in the US with a flip-of-the-coin death rate. We can reduce our risk of oral cancer by avoid all forms of tobacco, restricting alcohol consumption, avoiding obesity, and eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day, as well as shooting for fewer than 6 lifetime oral sex partners and avoiding prolonged marijuana use—meaning more than about 20 years. But what if you already have precancerous changes in your mouth?

Well, black raspberries appear to selectively inhibit the growth of both malignant and premalignant cells, but not normal cells—just what we want, but that's just in a petri dish. So they took some folks with precancerous growth in their mouths, so called oral intraepithelial neoplasia, and had them rub a black raspberry gel on it for 6 weeks. Like the esophageal study with strawberries, most of the patients' lesions improved, including complete clinical regression. Now you see it; now you don't. Thanks to just berries. They were able to follow a reversal of genetic changes that had led to the silencing of tumor suppressor genes.

The gel was just to get the berries to stick to the lesions, so they didn't have to eat berries all day. Now they're getting even more high tech, developing Injectable Millicylindrical berry Implants. Unlike standard local delivery formulations, which require multiple, repeated dosing throughout the day, implantable vehicles alleviate concerns with multiple dosing schedules and poor patient compliance. They fill up these microscopic little barrels with black raspberry power, inject them into a lesion, and they slowly dissolve, releasing their phytonutrients over a whole month.

For those who'd rather eat their berries the old fashioned way, unfortunately you have to pretty much be in Oregon the three weeks in July when these particular berries are harvested to get your hands on them. I've never seen them frozen in stores. You can order them online, frozen but they're like 20 bucks a pound with shipping. The freeze-dried powder is comparatively cheaper, but I've always wondered about how much nutrition is lost. Well, there's finally been a study. The antioxidant concentration was measured in fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried strawberries and strawberry jam, with the intent of measuring antioxidant content of foods typically available to consumers in grocery stores.

On a gram for gram dry weight basis the freeze-drying holds up remarkably well, even better than freezing. Jam, though, presumably because of the heat processing, really takes a hit. On a consumed weight basis, though, the freeze-dried do shine, but just because an ounce of dried is equivalent to about a cup and a half of fresh.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

What strawberries and esophageal cancer revelation you ask? That was in my last video Strawberries versus Esophageal Cancer, following up on Cranberries versus Cancer and Which Fruit Fights Cancer Better?

I've previously covered the clinical trials of black raspberries (though in a different orifice) in Best Fruits For Cancer Prevention. I also touched on the adverse effects of breathing smoke from any source in Cannabis Receptors & Food.

Berries in general are the healthiest fruits and I encourage everyone to try to fit them into their daily diet. Here are a few of my 37 other videos on berries:

Check out my associated blog posts for more context:  Which Common Fruit Fights Cancer Better?Anti-Cancer Nutrient Synergy in CranberriesStrawberries Can Reverse Cancer ProgressionRaspberries Reverse Precancerous Lesions, and  Top 10 Most Popular Videos from 2013

 If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • veggivet

    I would be happy to eat berries all day if anyone wants to do that trial!

  • Anon

    A question from Daniel Manahan from youtube:

    “Dr. Greger what is your opinion on GMO veggies and their ability to cure cancer just as well?

    is there any science to show that a GMO berry would do just as good?
    or any other study showing the GMO equivalent would do just as good as
    an organic counterpart?”

    I would like to know that as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

      1) At present there aren’t any commercially available GMO berries – its just not a large enough agricultural market compared to grains, soy, and oil seeds.

      2) Wild and organic berries have higher polyphenol content than cultivated varieties, and one theory is that they’re producing them to deter insects. It was more advantageous to have one’s seed disseminated widely by migratory birds during berry plant evolution.

      • Anon

        High thanks to your reply.

  • painterguy

    I eat blackberries every day. They are cheap. Red raspberries are pricey and don’t taste as good as blackberries. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black raspberry. I’ve thought about becoming a blackberry farmer. Them chiggers are somethin’ fierce though.

    • Coacervate

      aren’t blackberries the same beast as black raspberries?

      • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

        Blackberries, raspberries, dewberries and cloudberries are all from the same genus Rubus and subgenus Rubus, with some rather complex hybridization going on. There’s no single blackberry species, rather a bunch of them, and hybrids between as well. Raspberries arise from at least 15 species, and black raspberries arise from three.

        It must keep batologists up at night.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubus

    • Stewart Edgington

      Blackberry patches are a prime habitat for chiggers. I think suffering could be defined by the chigger bites after a walk through a patch.

      I did find an easy protection that won’t kill you, your kids or pet. Many years ago I heard that sulfur would repel them. I got a hand cranked blower and spread sulfur all over my three acres including the blackberry patch. I would have been happy for a week free of chiggers but I had no bites for the next year.

      Unless you already have acid rain it would probably be good for the soil too. Oh, and I don’t think we can have too many blackberry farmers.

    • Nancy

      I’m confused. If you don’t think you’ve ever seen a black raspberry, then how do you know they don’t taste as good as blackberries?

      Both black raspberries and blackberries grow wild on my property. They’re from the same genus (Rubus), but they aren’t the same berry. They don’t even look the same. Like the red raspberry, the black raspberry detaches from the carpel when picked (it’s hollow inside), whereas the blackberry does not (it’s not hollow inside).

      Both are delicious! But the study does pertain to black raspberries, not blackberries. It would be interesting to find out if blackberries contain the same oral cancer fighting properties as black raspberries.

    • Nancy

      My apologies, Painterguy! You were comparing red raspberries to blackberries, not black raspberries. My bad!

      Black raspberries are even pricier than red raspberries. That’s why I’m glad they grow wild on my property. Wine berries, too.

  • tgraettinger

    We have black raspberries growing wild all around our farm in Western PA. We usually run out of interest in picking them before we run out of berries. Look for them in mid-to-late June. Love ‘em fresh or frozen in my morning oatmeal!

  • Kman

    Great video Dr Greger. I have a small quibble. “On a consumed weight basis, though, the freeze-dried do shine, but just because an ounce of dried is equivalent to about a cup and a half of fresh.” – the tone of this is unmistakeable begrudging. I think many vegan take heuristics like “eat fresh”, “eat whole foods”, “avoid processed foods”, and turn them into more than pragmatic, utilitarian rules of thumb, which is all they are. The advantages of the nutrient density of freeze-dried berry powders should be celebrated and emphasised.

    • James

      Black raspberries are actually pretty low in sugar vs. many other berries due to their high fiber content. The fiber portion of the berry has actually been shown in other studies to be very beneficial for health and for fighting against cancerous tissues. There is a company out in oregon called BerriHealth that uses whole berries just like you would find in a store for their powders and keeps the fiber in which would lower sugar per serving.

      There are a couple other companies that might do this as well, the one I used before ran out of stock about a year ago and was more expensive. However, a lot of companies just buy purees made from lower-quality material to freeze dry, which strains out a lot of the fiber too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

      Agreed. There’s tremendous wastage in fresh produce due to consumer demands for unblemished fruit. From a pragmatic standpoint, some types of processing can yield most of the health promoting phytochemical content, while making use of blemished fruit, reducing transport and storage costs, and making seasonally abundant fruit available year round.

      Even environmentally conscious consumers can conceed the advantage of freeze-dried or frozen local berries over say, air transport of fresh Chilean/New Zealand crops.

      • Kman

        Thanks for the info, I wonder if any commercial products make use of one of these methods?

        • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

          You probably wouldn’t want them. Solvent extraction using CH2Cl2 and CCl4 (also used in dry cleaning) is used all the time to isolate less water soluble compounds in chemical analysis and synthesis – my very first organic chemistry lab used CCl4 to isolate the caffeine from a kettle of very strong tea – but they’re not terribly environmentally or health friendly.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichloromethane
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tetrachloride

          Its one thing to ingest small amounts of highly regulated pharmaceutical products that might use solvent extraction steps – it quite another to send all your berries through the dry cleaners.

          • Kman

            Using your knowledge, can you think of, or do you know of a different process that doesn’t have those problems?

          • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

            If you’re goal is simply sugar removal, than yes. Ferment the berry slurry in a vat, boil off the alcohol (perhaps sell it as fruit brandy), and you’re left with a somewhat unpalatable but most likely healthy mess of boiled yeast husks and undigested nonvolatile berry components, enriched in the anthocyanins.

            In general though, I think a better option is to choose a diet where occasional sugar rush from eating fruit is not a problem. They weren’t for our primate ancestors, who ate as much fruit as possible, when in season. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are diseases of chronic fat poisoning, not high-glycemic index carbs. See Mark McCarty’s excellent life guide for more detail than I can offer here: http://www.nutriguard.com/eattolive.pdf

          • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

            I would agree that too the best approach is not to worry too much about the sugars in whole foods. I have had patients who have to restrict their fruit intake do to the effect on triglycerides but these were folks who were eating many servings a day. It is the fructose and not the glucose that has been associated with inflammation and other issues. Given the pharmacokinetic studies I have seen low dose fructose doesn’t appear to be much of a problem but I’m sure their will be more research coming. It is the fat in the diet,both animal and plant fats, that are the main cause of the insulin resistance. You can make a case for fructose indirectly causing it by its metabolism in the liver to fats. We are learning more about how metabolically active our fat cells are. Just another reason to maintain ideal levels of body fat. Thanks Darryl for some well informed and interesting posts…. reminds me of some of my undergraduate labs as a Chemical Engineering major.

        • Wegan

          Mountain rose herbs have some organic freeze dried berry powders like acai.
          http://www.mountainroseherbos.com/index.php?AID=091391

    • Psych MD

      I agree. You can buy a two month supply of Juice Festiv for $22 at Costco. It contains, in powdered form, 46 different fruits and vegetables, the majority of which none of us would ever otherwise come in contact with.

      • Veganica

        Unfortunately, Juice Festiv also contains whey and gelatin.

    • Mary P.

      Hi, Kman,

      I just ordered Amla powder, organic freeze-dried Acai berry powder, and organic raw berry power blend (12 varieties of berries) from Sunburst Superfoods. The powders seemed reasonably priced and are sugar free. Here is the link to the “superfood powders” page: http://www.sunburstsuperfoods.com/superfood-powders/. The toll-free number: 800-228-4436 (M-F only, 9-5 EST). Enjoy in good health!

      • Kman

        Thanks, but I can’t seem to find where it says these products are sugar free. Are you sure?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

      Hey Kman, I think there are quite a few freeze-dried fruit powder purveyors. I am quite certain that additional sugar is not added. Although there is naturally occurring glucose and fructose in the powder, it is in similar quantities as what you would find in the fruit itself. I have used freeze dried powders and am quite happy with them. One other advantage is simply that they require less storage space.

  • Kman

    I wonder if freeze-dried berry powder could come in a low-sugar form – all the phytonutrients with less of the sugar?

  • Coacervate

    Hey Gang, I know this is a bit OT but get a load of this:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/02/19/172421803/flax-seed-the-next-superfood-for-cows-and-beef

    talk about roll on the floor laughing… Have you herd the new Beef eaters slogan? “You are what you eat eats!” heh

  • Ronald Chavin

    Blackberries and raspberries contain even less proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) than strawberries so the harm or benefit from high-tannin fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains on oral and esophageal lesions was not decided by this black raspberry gel study:
    http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/3/613/T1.expansion.html

    Out of 19 patients with oral lesions, 7 improved, 2 got worse, and 10 did not get better or worse during the 6 week duration of this black raspberry gel study:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498466/figure/F3/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18413833

    I can think of many gels that might have worked better such as various medicinal mushrooms, olive leaves, olive fruits, garlic, onions, cabbage, broccoli, red radishes, giant white turnips, soybeans, fenugreek seeds, astragalus root, tomatoes, Korean red ginseng, astaxanthin, tocotrienols, alpha-lipoic acid, fucoidan, zinc, krill oil, white tea, rooibos tea, triphala (risky), tannin sorghum (risky), or any green leafy vegetables. Are the researchers trying to sell berries?

  • LynnCS

    Blackberries grow by the roadside here in Oregon. We pick them every year. One of these days, some corporation will try to own the whole mess and charge us for picking them. They grow everywhere like weeds. We love them.

    • KL InIdaho

      I planted raspberries and blackberries invaded :) And I love them more. I’m from the East Coast, and the blackberries here are one of the joyous things on earth.

  • Cassiel Sep

    Fresh berries are compared to frozen. What about berries in powder? That is the only choice I have available where I live. Thanks.

  • Ilse

    The approximately 50% reduction in antioxidant capacity of jam compared to fresh fruit is likely due to the fact that most jams are made from equal amounts of fruit & sugar by weight.

    • Veganica

      Interesting point, Ilse, thanks. We don’t add sugar to our homemade jam, but the processing heat is still likely to destroy some nutrients.

  • Luc

    The picture of a single berry at the beginning of the video is not a black raspberry (rubus occidentalis) but a blackberry (rubus fruticosus).

  • jeff swanson

    This flies in the face of Dr Greger’s video on Gerson therapy in which the “studies” stopped Gerson therapy during cancer treatment because people died faster.