Cranberries are often touted as a way to protect against urinary tract infections, but that may be just the beginning. Researchers fed cranberry extracts to mice with colon cancer and found that the tumors diminished in size and number. Identifying the therapeutic molecules in the tart fruit could lead to a better understanding of its anti-cancer potential, they say. The researchers will describe their approach at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
In previous studies, the researchers found that chemicals derived from cranberry extracts could selectively kill off colon tumor cells in laboratory dishes. They identified several compounds in cranberry extracts over the years that seemed promising, but wanted to look at what happens with the compounds in an animal model.
The team generated three powdered cranberry extracts: a whole fruit powder, an extract containing only the cranberry polyphenols, and one containing only the non-polyphenol components of the fruit.
The researchers mixed the cranberry extracts into the meals of mice with colon cancer. After 20 weeks, the mice given the whole cranberry extract had about half the number of tumors as mice that received no cranberry in their chow. The remaining tumors in the cranberry-fed mice were also smaller. Plus, the cranberry extracts seemed to reduce the levels of inflammation markers in the mice.
In the study, the researchers were careful not to give the mice an absurd amount of cranberry. The mice were given an approximately equivalent to a cup a day of cranberries if you were a human.
Currently, the researchers are looking deeper into the cranberry to see if they can isolate individual components responsible for its anti-cancer properties. The researchers are also analyzing the metabolites in the mice that consumed the fruit extracts to better understand what happens due to mouse metabolism after the cranberry components are digested.
Based on material originally posted by American Chemical Society.