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Your Environment. Your Health.

Aggressive Breast Cancer Responds to Blueberries

Shiuan Chen, Ph.D.
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope
NIEHS Grant R01ES008258


NIEHS grantees report that blueberry consumption lessened the growth and spread of triple negative breast cancer cells in mice. Very few drugs are effective against this aggressive form of breast cancer, which does not express the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) protein.


The researchers experimented with mice that were injected with triple negative breast cancer cells. Compared to control mice receiving no blueberry powder, those receiving a diet that included five percent freeze-dried whole blueberry powder had a tumor size 75 percent smaller. Tumor size was 60 percent smaller if the mice received ten percent blueberry powder. Molecular analysis showed that the blueberry consumption altered expression of genes tied to inflammation, cancer and metastasis in ways that would lower cancer risk. In another experiment, the researchers found a significant decrease in metastasis in mice that consumed a diet including five percent blueberry powder compared to those that did not consume blueberry.


Although more research is needed to confirm the effect in humans, the amount of blueberry powder used in the experiments could be reasonably consumed. The five percent blueberry powder is equivalent to about two cups of blueberries a day. The researchers are planning clinical trials using whole blueberry powder to determine a suitable human dose.

Citation: Adams LS, Kanaya N, Phung S, Liu Z, Chen S. Whole blueberry powder modulates the growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast tumors in nude mice. 2011 Aug 31. J Nutr 141(10):1805-1812.

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