Dietary patterns, including regular consumption of particular foods such as berries as well as bioactive compounds, may confer specific molecular and cellular protection in addition to the overall epidemiologically observed benefits of plant food consumption (lower rates of obesity and chronic disease risk), further enhancing health. Mounting evidence reports a variety of health benefits of berry fruits that are usually attributed to their non-nutritive bioactive compounds, mainly phenolic substances such as flavonoids or anthocyanins. Although it is still unclear which particular constituents are responsible for the extended health benefits, it appears that whole berry consumption generally confers some anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to humans and animals. With regards to cancer, studies have reported beneficial effects of berries or their constituents including attenuation of inflammation, inhibition of angiogenesis, protection from DNA damage, as well as effects on apoptosis or proliferation rates of malignant cells. Berries extend effects on the proliferation rates of both premalignant and malignant cells. Their effect on premalignant cells is important for their ability to cause premalignant lesions to regress both in animals and in humans. The present review focuses primarily on in vivo and human dietary studies of various berry fruits and discusses whether regular dietary intake of berries can prevent cancer initiation and delay progression in humans or ameliorate patients’ cancer status.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited