Lifesaving Raspberries

Skin cancer patient David Dick wants to make sure his daughter learns one important lesson sooner than he did: "Use sunscreen if you're going to go out in the sun," he says. Dick believes too much sun and too little protection left him with cancerous lesions that had to be surgically removed.

Researchers say black raspberries may one day offer people additional protection against the sun's harmful rays. Experts say rubbing black raspberry extract loaded with antioxidants on sunburned skin may reduce swelling that causes skin cancer, and they found it effectively stops tumors from forming in mice.

"It's like a little lotion that we apply after the animals were exposed to ultraviolet light," says Anne VanBuskirk, Ph.D., a surgical oncologist at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

"Black raspberries and skin cancer … who would have ever thought?" says Jason Duncan, a graduate research assistant at the Ohio State University. "It really opens people's minds to alternatives."

Research performed in male mice also shows they have much lower cancer-preventing anti-oxidants in their skin than female mice. "The male mice actually developed tumors about two weeks earlier. They developed more tumors over time, and the tumors were larger and also more advanced," says Tatiana Oberyszyn, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University. She believes the results may translate to humans. "Men actually seem to be more sensitive to sunlight, but in a different way than women," says Oberyszyn.

When it comes to skin cancer prevention, experts say almost any berry will do. Researchers at Ohio State University started with black raspberries because they are indigenous to the state of Ohio.

Dick says he is happy for alternate methods to protect his precious daughter's skin, but he still uses sunscreen as his primary defense against skin cancer.

"[My daughter] is covered with 64 plus right now, and I've got it all over me," he says. A lesson in skincare that is sure to last a lifetime.

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Ann VanBuskirk, Ph.D
Tatiana Oberyszyn, Ph.D

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