Minna Rahnasto-Rilla and a Finnish American research group have found a connection between the bilberry pigment and inhibition of cancer cell growth and several age related diseases. This is a study from the University of Eastern Finland.
The research group found that bilberries have even 40 % more pigments compared to light coloured regular blueberries. Pigments are most abundant in blue, purple and red berries and Finnish bilberries are dark purple throughout. Same pigments known as anthocyanins are found in large amounts also in black currants and lingonberries. Anthocyanins and especially cyanidin increases cirtuin 6 enzyme (SIRT6) levels. SIRT6 regulates genes that have an effect on glucose metabolism and cellular function. SIRT6 functions change during aging which leads to the development of many diseases and changes in metabolism. Anthocyanins activate SIRT6 enzyme preventing these unfavorable changes from happening.
Upregulated SIRT6 activation reduced the expression of human colorectal cancer genes and cancer cell growth in vitro via upregulating detoxifying enzymes. In vivo studies have also shown the anti-cancer properties. In addition to this the anthocyanins have beneficial effects against oxidative stress and inflammation. These pigment studies are still in the beginning but the results are promising. There might be several interesting applications coming up!
Katri Kallionpää, Helsingin Sanomat, 9.4.2018 https://www.hs.fi/hyvinvointi/art-2000005635236.html
M. Rahnasto-Rilla et. al, Scientific Report, 2018, 8, 1-11 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22388-5