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Cancer-fighting fruit?

Remember when your mom kept telling you to eat more fruit? She may have been on to something beyond just mere nutrition.

For decades, Ohio State researchers have explored potential links between black raspberries and their preventive power with various forms of cancer. They’ve focused on the role of the whole berry, which contains various bioactive phytochemicals, like ellagic acid and anthocyanins.

The researchers have demonstrated the remarkable ability of black raspberries to reduce the development of tumors in animal models of cancer, including the oral cavity, esophagus, and colon.

More recently, researchers have been exploring whether black raspberries might have similar effects in human patients. Drs. Christopher Weghorst and Thomas Knobloch, researchers with The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, gave black raspberries to oral cancer patients and found they significantly reduced the expression genes that promote inflammation and cell growth in tumor cells.

“Cancer is essentially a situation characterized by cells dividing out of control,” Weghorst explained.

“If we can slow those dividing cells early on by reducing the signals that cause them to divide, that might be a pretty good approach to slowing the overall progression of the disease.”

Does this mean that black raspberries prevent cancer? Not quite, say researchers.

A definitive human study to answer that question would take decades and be cost prohibitive. Instead, researchers will continue to evaluate the influence of berries on biomarkers of cancer in both animal models and short-term clinical trials. “There are certainly promising signs of black raspberries modulating cellular events in a manner that favors cancer prevention,” Weghorst added.

Can you help researchers? 

Cigarette smokers are needed for a new study testing a black raspberry-rich drink and its ability to protect smokers from oral disease and lower the risk of oral cancer.

In the National Cancer Institute-funded study, conducted through The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Colleges of Public Health, Dentistry, Medicine and Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is evaluating the impact of black raspberry compounds on the bacteria in the mouths of current smokers.

To learn more about the study qualifications, visit For additional questions or to enroll in the study, call 614-688-9769 or email