According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. One of the most common treatments for cervical cancer is radiation. While radiation therapy destroys cancer cells, it also destroys nearby healthy cells. University of Missouri (MU)School of Medicine researchers studied in vitro human cancer cells to show that combining blueberry extract with radiation can increase the treatment's effectiveness. "Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays and other particles such as gamma rays to destroy cancer cells," said Yujiang Fang, MD, PhD, a visiting professor at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "For some cancers, such as late-stage cervical cancer, radiation is a good treatment option. However, collateral damage to healthy cells always occurs. Based on previous research, we studied blueberry extract to verify it could be used as a radiosensitizer." The study, "Blueberry as a Potential Radiosensitizer for Treating Cervical Cancer," recently was published online on September 30, 2017 in Pathology & Oncology Research. Radiosensitizers are non-toxic chemicals that make cancer cells more responsive to radiation therapy. In a previous study, Dr. Fang and his research team showed that resveratrol, a compound in red grapes, could be used as a radiosensitizer for treating prostate cancer. Blueberries also contain resveratrol. "In addition to resveratrol, blueberries also contain flavonoids," said Dr. Fang, who also has appointments as an academic pathologist and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Des Moines University in Iowa. "Flavonoids are chemicals that may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties."
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