Here’s a seasonal idea for you during these summer days. Studies show black raspberries can be another potent tool in your cancer-prevention toolbox. In fact, they appear to be very effective against the second leading cause of cancer deaths in America, according to the National Cancer Institute.1
While strawberries, red raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are generally regarded as cancer-fighting and healthy, the neglected black raspberry may be even more powerful, especially against colon cancer and esophageal cancer. Keep reading for more details on how food really can be a medicine. . .
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Black raspberries are not as widely eaten as red raspberries, or even the similar-looking blackberry. The black raspberry is more seedy and less juicy than its red counterpart, which may explain why it’s less popular.
Based on some new findings, you may want to take a second look. The black raspberry’s darker skin means it contains significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting anthocyanins than do red raspberries — plus a host of other cancer-fighting phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and acids.
Black raspberries boast a high antioxidant value — essential for reversing free radical damage — and especially valuable for preventing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In addition, the black raspberry has anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective benefits. As you’ll see in the next couple of minutes, the best advice is run, don’t walk, to make these berries part of your diet.
The most exciting benefits identified so far involve colorectal cancer and esophageal cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most common types in the U.S. — and one of the most deadly. Among cancers it ranks second for the number of people killed. An estimated 143,000 people will learn they have colon cancer in 2012.
Early findings suggest that black raspberries may be a potent way of preventing this disease.
Kept mice from developing cancer
Researchers at University of Illinois-Chicago and Ohio State University genetically engineered mice to develop either: (1) intestinal tumors outright, or (2) colitis, an inflammatory colon disease known to increase your risk of colorectal cancer.2
Then for 12 weeks they fed all the mice a high-risk diet low in calcium and vitamin D, and high in saturated fat. Some of the mice were also randomly assigned to receive a large part of their calories, about 10 percent, from freeze-dried black raspberry powder.
The results were astounding.
Of the mice engineered to get tumors, the black raspberry powder slashed the number of new tumors by 45 percent, and the number of total tumors by 60 percent.
Among the mice engineered to get colitis, black raspberry powder significantly reduced the number of new and total tumors by 50 percent.
This is especially significant considering these mice were engineered to become diseased.
This study began with the premise that raspberries, black raspberries and blueberries all contain varying amounts of special antioxidants believed to have cancer-fighting characteristics, as well as strong anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective qualities.
But these researchers also suspect that the black raspberry’s ability to fight inflammation through your whole body may be linked to its specific ability to fight cancer, and perhaps also other diseases of aging as well.
As you probably know, ongoing inflammation can wreak havoc on your body.
In the case of colitis, the prolonged irritation can permanently damage sensitive digestive tissue — causing it to mutate and become cancerous.
A different study, in 2001, showed that freeze-dried berries stopped cellular changes that can lead to cancer. That study used animal cells grown in lab dishes.
Benefits for esophageal cancer, too
Two studies conducted in 2009 — one in cells in lab dishes and one with mice — found that the compounds in black raspberries can prevent and stop the proliferation of esophageal tumor cells. The esophagus is the tube that leads from your throat down to your stomach.
The findings appear to confirm a 2007 pilot study on patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s a pre-malignant condition linked to a 30- to 40-fold increased risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma — a particularly deadly cancer that few people survive. The five-year survival rate is 15%.
When the drug companies try to scare you into taking acid reflux drugs, they often mention that acid reflux (GERD) can lead to cancer. They’re right about that much, although they’ve got the wrong answer.
Barrett’s esophagus results in chronic injury to the esophagus… and can lead to key changes in the lipids, proteins, and genes of these tissues.
Laura Kresty, PhD, the study’s author, chose black raspberries for three reasons:
- Several studies suggest black raspberries protect against a number of cancers.
- Black raspberries are known to have especially high levels of several compounds with potential anticancer properties (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anthocyanins)
- Black raspberries are among the most extensively studied fruits in animal-based studies.
Every day for six months, twenty patients received either 32g (females) or 45g (males) of freeze-dried black raspberries. Forty-five grams is equivalent to about 2 cups of whole black raspberries. But the freeze-dried form is concentrated and packs a bigger punch in a smaller volume, plus you can mix it with water.
Biopsies, urine, and blood samples were evaluated at the beginning of the study, at 12 weeks and at 26 weeks. Dramatic changes occurred in two urinary markers for global oxidative stress, a measure of the body’s total oxidative stress.
In addition, the black raspberry treatment increased a protein important in tissue detoxification, GST-π, in 37% of these patients. This is especially promising, given the increased oxidative damage patients with Barrett’s esophagus experience in their esophageal tissue.
The one downside was that these patients gained an average 3.9 pounds during the six months, which could be connected to the additional 200 calories per day of the fruit in their diet.
The researchers were quick to point out that this could also be normal weight gain. Don’t take a chance. You should pair the additional 200 calories with additional exercise or reduced intake of other foods, to ensure weight gain doesn’t turn the raspberry powder into a net loser for your health.
I want to make clear that black raspberries aren’t a treatment for acid reflux as such. That’s another topic. But they may be an important way to reduce the damage it does.
Can you tell a black raspberry from a blackberry?
Black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) share their genus Rubus with both red raspberries and blackberries. Collectively, they’re often called brambles.
In the wild, black raspberries create extensive thorny thickets, which is why they’re sometimes considered weeds. They grow like crazy where I live, and can be a nuisance.
Especially if you’re eating your black raspberries fresh, you may need a little help differentiating blackberries from black raspberries. They look similar, so it’s hard to tell unless you’re a horticulturist. These tips may help…
The botanical distinction between raspberry (either red or black) is really in the fruit.
Raspberries leave a little white core behind when you pull the fruit off the bush. Blackberry cores come off with the fruit.
Why not try some today? Pop them into your mouth fresh. Or add them to a smoothie.
For greater convenience…
I think the whole, fresh fruit should be eaten when practical. But black raspberries aren’t found all that often in stores. Besides that, they’re not in season all year long. And eating a therapeutic amount of them — about two cups — every single day is out of the question.
A quick search of the Internet provides you with two other options, which incidentally get rid of the seediness problem too, if you’re sensitive to that.
One option that addresses both calories and convenience is to take a black raspberry supplement. Secondly, you can take it in freeze-dried powder form, like the one the researchers used in the studies above.
Both options allow you to take more concentrated amounts, but supplements will generally contain less fructose than the powder, and therefore fewer calories.
Our knowledge of black raspberries is in its early stages, and I’m sure we’ll learn more as time goes by. But already it seems clear you can’t go wrong by adding them to your diet, as long as you watch out for the weight-gain angle.
All the most common and popular berries — strawberries, blueberries and blackberries as well as raspberries — have tremendous health benefits. Eat each one while it’s in season — and during the off-season, too, if they’re available and you can afford them. While almost no one can eat two cups of black raspberries a day, many people should be able to eat at least ONE of these fruits almost every day.
It’s essential to buy organic because large amounts of chemicals are used in growing berries the conventional way. I wish I could tell you better news, but it’s a fact that the conventional form of these fruits is likely to be laden with poisons.
In our last issue, I wrote about how a teenager in Maryland has scored an amazing breakthrough against pancreatic cancer. If you were too busy on July 4 to read this wonderful news, scroll down and catch up on it now.
15-Year-Old Finds a Way to
Detect Pancreatic Cancer Early
What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with news of a young American who may have just saved tens of thousands of lives — per year? His invention could mean effective early screening for pancreatic cancer, a disease for which no early detection test is now available.
Legendary Apple CEO Steve Jobs put pancreatic cancer in the spotlight when he died of it last fall. At the time, news reports talked about scores of complicated treatments and diagnostic approaches.
At a staggering cost (for most of us) of $75,000, Jobs had his entire genome decoded, along with the genome of his cancer, in hopes of finding a cure. He was one of the first people to do so. His bold, experimental effort didn’t save his life. This complex genetic approach does guide the treatment of certain cancers, but not pancreatic treatment at this point.
Now — too late for Steve Jobs — a fifteen-year-old boy may have developed a simple yet effective way to find pancreatic cancer early, when it’s far more treatable. It’s a $3 detection method dreamed up by a Maryland high school student named Jack Andraka. Keep reading because this could be major lifesaver. . .
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One of the hardest cancers to diagnose
As many as 44,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. The disease tends to spread fast and kill quickly.
The median survival time following diagnosis in only five months. This means half the victims die within five months of learning they have the disease. A paltry 4% of patients make it past the five-year mark, once diagnosed. All told, about 37,000 people are dying of pancreatic cancer every year. Few things are more frightening than being told you have this disease.
Current standard treatments for pancreatic cancer consist mostly of the typical allopathic arsenal — chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. They’re even more ineffective than with other types of cancer because pancreatic cancer is usually advanced by the time a diagnosis is made. At that point, a cure is rarely possible.
Pancreatic cancer has traditionally been tough to diagnose. Most cases surface after a patient reports weight loss, abdominal pain, and chronic itching. Jaundice is another symptom.
Sometimes it takes months before a patient becomes alarmed enough about the symptoms to seek a doctor’s help. And if the doctor recognizes the symptoms as possible pancreatic cancer, an imaging test is usually needed to confirm the diagnosis (meaning a CT scan, an MRI, or an ultrasound).
If the imaging test shows a mass on the pancreas, most doctors order a biopsy. Till now, that’s been the only way to tell for sure if the problem is pancreatic cancer. Early detection hasn’t been possible.
One problem is that the current blood test to detect pancreatic cancer isn’t effective till patients are in the advanced stages of the disease. The test looks for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA 19-9, but CEA and CA levels don’t spike until the game is just about over.
Endoscopic ultrasound has also been used for early detection, but it’s an invasive, expensive procedure. Because of that, it’s only used for those at high risk, such as someone who’s had multiple family members diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
This shaggy-haired high schooler
may have reinvented cancer diagnosis
Fifteen-year old Jack Andraka’s test for pancreatic cancer costs a tiny fraction of current accepted tests. It’s also 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive, and 100 times more selective than the closest thing now available. And by the way, it’s 26,000 times less expensive — and it doesn’t give false positives or false negatives.
In a single-blinded study of 100 patient samples, Andraka’s test gave a 100 percent correct diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Most importantly, the test can diagnose the cancer at an early stage, before it spreads.
Andraka calls it the “Non-Invasive Pancreatic Cancer Detection Tool.” Using simple diabetic test paper and a $50 meter from Home Depot, Andraka made a basic dip-stick sensor test. He focused specifically on early-stage pancreatic cancer after losing an uncle to the disease.
To get the test to work, Andraka dipped the filter paper into a solution of carbon nanotubes, which he calls the “superheroes of material science.” More formally, he describes them as “hollow cylinders with walls the thickness of a single atom.”
These nanotube “cylinders” are coated with a specific antibody designed to attach to the protein or virus you’re testing for. In this case, they bind to a protein that’s associated with pancreatic cancer cells.
The electrical meter tells the technician whether there’s been a shift in the space between the nanotubes. This is important, because a shift only happens when the targeted protein or virus comes into contact with the antibodies on the surface of the nanotubes.
Andraka says the test looks for “minute changes in conductivity to detect targeted viruses or antigens faster, cheaper and more accurately than today’s standard diagnostics.”
This could be the beginning of
major changes in cancer diagnosis
For his groundbreaking efforts, Andraka won the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (think of it as the world’s largest high school science research competition). He beat out over 1,500 students from 70 counties.
Andraka says the idea just came to him one day in Biology class. He also points out that blood tests are the only effective way to diagnose this disease in routine screenings. The sensors employed in his test are only three bucks, and up to ten tests can be performed on each strip.
Naturally, he’s being pursued by multiple companies like Quest Diagnostics, all of them extending offers to license or commercialize his invention (which he’s in the process of patenting). Andraka is also slated to speak in front of Congress about the need for funding to support pancreatic cancer research. And soon, he’ll submit his idea for publication with the American Association for Cancer Research.
It’s very possible Andraka’s test will change the way cancer and other fatal diseases are diagnosed. It could even change the way they’re treated. Already, Andraka says his test can be used for early diagnosis of lung and ovarian cancer as well — two more diseases where early diagnosis plays a major role in survival rates.
Just think … all this is possible thanks to the efforts of a shaggy-haired, forward thinking teen who loves science.
Lee Euler Publisher