Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Small Fruits & Berries

Blueberries against Breast Cancer?

by Susan Littlefield


Can the fruits you eat while pregnant have a beneficial effect on your children years into their lives? That's the question that Rosalia Simmen and co-investigators at the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center Breast Development Laboratory in Little Rock are hoping to answer with their research into the effects of blueberry powder on the normal mammary gland development of mice.

They found that when the dams (mother mice) were fed food containing 5-percent blueberry powder while they were pregnant and nursing their pups, their female offspring showed improvement in several indicators of rat mammary gland health, including branching of the gland and levels of a tumor-suppressing protein called PTEN.

While there have been other lab animals studies indicating a link between blueberries and breast cancer prevention, this is the first to show a link between the mother animal's blueberry consumption and healthy breast development in her offspring.

These health benefits have not been demonstrated in humans yet, and further research is needed see if these effects hold true for more than mice. But Simmen notes "The study provides strong support for the idea that early exposure, even in the womb, to healthy eating may profoundly affect the health of the unborn child. In short, you are what your mother eats."

Given all the other well-documented benefits of adding this high anti-oxidant fruit to your diet, consider adding some of these easy-to-grow fruits to your home garden for a harvest of delicious, healthful berries.

For more about the research into the connection between blueberries and breast health, go to: Blueberries and Your Health.

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