Cultural Competence in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: The Case of Blueberries in North America


Berry and berry-type fruits have gained the title of “super fruits” in recent years due to their anti-disease promoting phytonutrients. While researchers have been hard at work isolating the mechanisms by which these bioactive chemicals influence the human body, scientists have largely ignored the influence of culture on the co-evolutionary relationship between berry fruits and humans. This paper explores the phytochemical makeup and cultural groundings of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum). Cultural and spiritual connections of northeastern Native American groups such as the Ojibwe tribe with blueberries have influenced the survival of both species. Considering the poor consumption of fruits across the United States, this paper presents the thesis that effectively changing the dietary habits of a population requires a multi-faceted approach where scientific knowledge of the benefits of fruits in addition to the history and sociocultural meaning of various fruits are taken into account. Moreover, this paper discusses the importance of sociocultural backgrounds (specifically of fruits) as a platform for strengthening cultural competence in order to more effectively communicate knowledge concerning the use of fruits in the prevention and treatment of various cancers.

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Samuel-Peterson, N. (2013). Cultural Competence in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: The Case of Blueberries in North America. Advances in Anthropology, 3, 65-70. doi: 10.4236/aa.2013.32009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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