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Cherries offer hope to patients with inflammatory diseases

Chemist Darshan Kelly with the Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California says his work with cherries may give new hope to people who suffer arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

For his research, healthy volunteers ate about 45 cherries a day for 28 days. During that time, Kelly's team studied specific biomarkers in their blood and urine related to inflammatory disease. By the end of the 4 weeks, researchers reported an 18 to 25 percent drop in the levels of the markers.

"These markers are extremely important," he says. "Their concentrations are associated with the development of several chronic and inflammatory diseases."

Kelly says one of the most important biological markers is C-reactive protein or CRP,which is produced by the liver and increases rapidly during inflammation of the joints. "And, it is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, too," he says. "Half of the people who have a heart attack don't have elevated cholesterol, but they [do] have elevated CRP. So, it is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease."

Kelly says the next step will be to reproduce the results and include people who are either overweight and at higher risk for a heart attack or already have elevated levels of CRP. "[With] one third of the population overweight or obese to reduce this in that population will be a big step forward to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases."

The work appears in The Journal of Nutrition.