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What would the holiday season be without delicious cranberries? Cranberries are a very unique fruit. Cranberries or Vaccinium Macrocarpon, have acidic taste that usually overwhelms its sweetness and is always part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  

But what are the health benefits of Cranberries. Drinking cranberry juice or enjoying cranberry sauce with your Turkey and trimmings, can’t hurt but certainly won’t help cure cancer or even UTI’s. But a majority of in vitro studies have characterized the ability of cranberry derived extracts and constituents to inhibit cancer cell line density and viability. 

What? Can cranberries cure cancer or not. The simple answer is no. The complicated answer is let’s try to figure out a 2016 study funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. The study, “Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived  Constituents” was authored by Katherine M. Weh, Jennifer Clarke, and Laura A. Kresty.

Basically the study evaluates cranberries and cranberry derived constituents in preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies evaluating cancer inhibition. The data supports the anti-proliferative capacities of cranberries in a multitude of cancer cell lines.

Cranberries are loaded with health-enhancing resveratrol as well as flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the body.  Cranberries also contain ursolic acid, an anti-inflammatory nutrient that has antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties. This compound  among others is examined in the study, as part of the cranberry’s arsenal of nutrients that may help fight and prevent cancer.  

Dr, Jason Cohen understands patients who want an integrative approach to managing disease and is excited at the prospect of this reasearch.

“Considering we are in the early stage of studying the role of anti-proliferate effect cranberries have on cancer cells grown in a petri dish, it is very exciting to study whether cranberries can actually help treat a patient suffering from the disease. With all of the toxic treatments we have for cancer, searching for non-toxic ways to treat the disease is a must.”  

While these preliminary studies are being conducted it is important to note that they are in their early stages, and have not been replicated in a clinical trial. Nonetheless, these studies are intriguing and serve as a great excuse to pile on that cranberry sauce!

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