Cigarette smoke (CS) and dietary factors play a major role in cancer epidemiology. At the same time, however, the diet is the richest source of anticancer agents. Berries possess a broad array of health protective properties and were found to attenuate the yield of tumors induced by individual carcinogens in the rodent digestive tract and mammary gland but failed to prevent lung tumors induced by typical CS components in mice. We exposed whole-body Swiss ICR mice to mainstream CS, starting at birth and continuing daily for 4 months. Aqueous extracts of black chokeberry and strawberry were given as the only source of drinking water, starting after weaning and continuing for 7 months, thus mimicking an intervention in current smokers. In the absence of berries, CS caused a loss of body weight, induced early cytogenetical damage in circulating erythrocytes and histopathological alterations in lung (emphysema, blood vessel proliferation, alveolar epithelial hyperplasia and adenomas), liver (parenchymal degeneration) and urinary bladder (epithelial hyperplasia). Both berry extracts inhibited the CS-related body weight loss, cytogenetical damage, liver degeneration, pulmonary emphysema and lung adenomas. Protective effects were more pronounced in female mice, which may be ascribed to modulation by berry components of the metabolism of estrogens implicated in lung carcinogenesis. Interestingly, both the carcinogen and the chemopreventive agents tested are complex mixtures that contain a multitude of components working through composite mechanisms.
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