Thanksgiving special: cranberries can protect you from cancer and infection

November 26, 2008 by  
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They look good, they taste good but are they healthy? Fresh cranberries, cranberry juice – and not to forget the cranberry sauce that goes with the turkey on the Thanksgiving table.

Well, good news for cranberry lovers because your favorite berries actually give you health benefits that can blow your mind out and kill the cancer cells inside you.

Background info

The American cranberry, whose scientific name is Vaccinium macrocarpon is a fruit native to North America. It is closely related to two other American natives of the same genus, the blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolia) and the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). There are also other types of cranberries found in Europe.

Cranberries and ovarian cancer

A study by researchers at Rutgers University showed that cranberries can help enhance the potency of chemotherapy platinum drugs like cisplatin and paraplatin used in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The researchers demonstrated this effect of cranberry extract in studies on ovarian cell lines in the lab. In addition, the berry extract may also help in reducing the side effects of the said chemotherapeutic drugs.

According a report in the Science Daily

the active compounds in the extract are powerful antioxidants called ‘A-type’ proanthocyanidins that are unique to cranberries and not found in other fruits. .. Based on research by other groups, these compounds appear to bind to and block certain tumor promoter proteins found in the ovarian cancer cells, they say. The result is that the cancer cells become more vulnerable to attack from the platinum drugs…” 

Cranberries and infections

According to a report in the American Academy of Family Physicians, cranberries can be used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

“Research suggests that its mechanism of action is preventing bacterial adherence to host cell surface membranes… more recent, randomized controlled trials demonstrate evidence of cranberry’s utility in urinary tract infection prophylaxis. Supporting studies in humans are lacking for other clinical uses of cranberry. Cranberry is a safe, well-tolerated herbal supplement that does not have significant drug interactions.”

Another research indicates that cranberries also have a protective effect against the bacteria Helicobacter pylori that causes stomach ulcers.

Other health benefits

Cranberries are rich in polyphenols and oxidants, compounds known for their benefits to cardiovascular health. This study conducted by researchers of the Winona State University demonstrated that low-calorie, unsweetened cranberry juice has a positive effect on the metabolism of people with type 2 diabetes.

So on Thursday, remember to concentrate on the healthy part of the Thanksgiving feast! For the nutritional details of cranberries and cranberry products, click here.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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