British researchers are investigating whether an extract from bilberries -- already known to help with night vision -- can prevent or delay some cancers.


Andy Gescher and colleagues at the University of Leicester, is leading an investigation to carry out clinical trials with the commercially produced substance Mirtoselect -- extracted from bilberries -- with the cooperation of patients about to undergo surgery for colorectal and liver cancer.

The researchers want to determine how much of the bilberry extract actually gets into human tissue and whether there are changes in the tissue that may have been caused by the substance.

By comparing results with their laboratory model, the research team will have an indication as to how effective the bilberry extract is likely to be in preventing cancer.

"We are interested in agents, many of them derived from diet, which may prevent cancer or delay its onset," Gescher said in a statement.

"Our current research, involves berries, colored blue or red, which contain chemicals called anthocyanins. These have long been suspected to have a beneficial effect in this sense."