Black currants, antioxidants and cancer

         Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide and grow uncontrollably, invading and spreading to other tissues in the body via blood and lymph systems.  There are more than 100 types of cancer and they are grouped into broad categories, which include carcinoma, sarcoma, leukemia, and lymphoma.  Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they originate.

Blackcurrant berries have high amounts of unique anthocyanins, which are a special class of flavonoids that have chemotherapeutic effects and exhibit important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.  The anthocyanin cyanidin has very strong antioxidant and free radical scavenging abilities, which protect the cells against oxidative damage, reducing the risk of cancer and other disease.  In numerous studies, cyanidin has demonstrated anti-cancer and anti-mutagenic properties.  This particular anthocyanin causes cancer cell apoptosis, inhibits cell growth, and decreases cancer cell proliferation.  Studies have also shown that blackcurrant extracts reduce the proliferation of breast cancer and colon cancer cells due to the high content of nutrients, which includes vitamin C.



In a study conducted by researches from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, cyanidin-3-rutinoside (C3R) induced oxidative stress in tumor cells, but not in healthy cells.  Results indicated that this anthocyanin is highly selective against cancer cells and offers promise for treating leukemia, and possibly lymphomas.

Chemotherapy and radiation are currently used as treatments for many cancers.  These treatments, although they have become less invasive, harm the surrounding healthy cells and tissues, which may have detrimental side effects.  Researchers have found that a low dosage of C3R caused about half of the leukemia cells to die within 18 hours of treatment, while doubling the dose killed both leukemia and lymphoma cells.


The risk of developing many types of cancer may be reduced by practicing healthy lifestyle habits and eating a healthy diet that includes phytochemicals and antioxidants.  New Zealand Blackcurrants rare combination of anthocyanins and high concentration of polyphenols and polysaccharides, along with their rich source of nutrients, help to promote human health by protecting against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.