When you're diganosed with a disease, one thing you need to know is if it has any long-term effects. According to a recent study, 2/3 of people with GERD do not know if the disease has any long-term risks.[1] This is rather troubling, given that one of GERD's long-term effects can be fatal.

Barrett's esophagus, a condition in which bile and stomach acid reflux into the esophagus, resulting in the tissue lining the esophagus being replaced by tissue similar to the lining of the intestine. Three important facts to remember about Barrett's esophagus are:

  • It is virtually symptomless
  • It affects about 1% of American adults, at an average age of 50
  • It can lead to a deadly type of cancer[2]

Although, endoscopic treatments and surgery are available to help treat Barrett's esophagus, new evidence shows that people with Barrett's esophagus may be helped naturally using black raspberries.

Relying on previous animal studies that had shown how black raspberries reduce the risk of oral, esophageal, and colon cancers, researchers at The Ohio State University hypothesized that black raspberries could help patients with Barrett's esophagus reduce their risk of developing esophageal cancer. To compile data, the doctors had 20 patients with Barrett's esophagus consume about 1-1.5 ounces of freeze-dried black raspberries mixed into a drink each day. Before and after the study they assessed tissue, blood, and urinary biomarkers. The trial period lasted 6 months, and when it was over, the results were telling:

  • Nearly 40% of subjects saw a boost in a protective enzyme called GSTpi, which helps detoxify carcinogens and other harmful substances
  • Nearly 60% of subjects saw a decline in oxidative stress, which can cause cell damage

These numbers confirmed that eating black raspberries could help people with Barrett's esophagus prevent their disease from becoming cancerous.

An important thing to remember, however, is that the role of black raspberries regarding Barrett's esophagus is merely preventative. Eating a couple of black raspberries every so often does not cure Barrett's esophagus. Moreover, there may be a time frame for which the preventative treatment works best.

Dr. Laura Kresty, a head researcher in the study, believes there could be a "real impact" on preventing the cancer, but only "if we can intervene early and . . . slow down or delay the progression of the disease."[3]

And as is the case with most ground-breaking studies, Kresty acknowledges that the "results are encouraging, but more study is needed."

[1] Liker, Harley R. "Unmet Medical Needs among Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: A Foundation for Improving Management in Primary Care." Digestive Diseases: Clinical Reviews.

[2] http://www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov

[3] http://medicine.osu.edu/article/index.cfm?ID=3687