Fruits and Berries are packed with cancer and inflammatory fighting agents called antioxidants. And, with their vivid and dazzling rainbow colors, they’re mighty pretty as well. Those stunning colors to which we’re attracted are created by their pigments, or anthocyanins, which are a type of flavonoid that has recently been undergoing scientific investigation for its health benefits. Anthocyanins are found abundantly in wild blueberry, black currant, and lingonberry, but are also available in varying amounts in all berries and even vegetables that are colored red, purple, and blue.
A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that anthocyanins increase the function of an enzyme that fights cancer called sirtuin6 enzyme (SIRT6), which also regulates the expression of genes that control cell function. The study is important because it has laid the foundation for the development of new cancer drugs. Unfortunately, aging causes changes in the function of this enzyme which can lead to the development of age-related diseases, including cancer. The study is timely for our over 50 readers.
In addition, one type of anthocyanin called cyanidin has found interest among scientists for its ability to increase production of SIRT6 55-fold. That’s right! It is an increase of 55 times its baseline. It has also decreased expression of the cancer genes Twist1 and GLUT1, while increasing expression of the FOX03 gene known for its tumor suppression capabilities. It’s almost a regulatory genius, especially for those with colorectal cancer.
In short, this compound appears to reduce the activity of cancer-causing genes and increase the activity of tumor suppressing ones. Researchers still are not sure of which types of cancer are best served by a berry- eating diet, but research is underway.
The many influences of SIRT6
Sirtuin 6 has also been shown to impact longevity, DNA-repair, and inflammation. SIRT6 deficient cells display a sensitivity to oxidative stress and a reduced capacity for DNA repair, leaving the organism vulnerable to illness and disease. It plays an important role controlling glucose and lipid metabolism, regulating of lipid genes that are involved in cellular response. These diverse functions of SIRT6 highlight its importance in aging as well as a protective agent of cellular function. Therefore, compounds that can regulate SIRT6 activities hold promise for treating age-related diseases such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer.
Recently, a study from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, found that people who ate three or more servings of strawberries and blueberries per week, reduced their rate of heart attack by one third when compared to women who ate berries only once a month or less. They attribute these heart-healthy effects of berry eating to the colorful anthocyanins.
And the moral of the story is: Color your world with berries at least 3 times per week and be healthy!
Berries Stimulate Cancer-Fighting Enzyme: Newsmax. April 15, 2018.