Top 10 Cancer Fighting Supplements 2024: Unveiling the Science Behind Cancer, Diet and Supplements (500+ Studies Analyzed)

Can supplements, diet and lifestyle influence cancer risk? Are you able to supplement your way out of cancer? Dive into 300+ research studies to find out.

Cancer prevention is paramount. It’s far better to avoid the disease altogether than to face treatment or even early detection. However, traditional media often overlooks preventive measures due to a profit-driven focus. This leaves many people confused about the role of supplements in cancer prevention.

A vast array of dietary supplements exists, but their effectiveness remains unclear without strong scientific backing. This article dives into the research to answer critical questions:
  • Do foods impact cancer risk? We explore which foods might decrease or increase your risk.
  • Supplement Savvy: Can vitamins and minerals help, or even hinder, cancer prevention?
  • Beyond the "Anti-Cancer" Label: This term can be misleading. We'll discuss supplements that may play a role in both prevention and supporting treatment.
Unlike medications, the FDA doesn't strictly regulate supplements. Their safety and effectiveness may vary. With so many options, choosing the right ones can be overwhelming. Always consult your doctor first! Some supplements can interact with medications or cause side effects, especially during cancer treatment.

Credit: FLCCC Alliance

This article explores some supplements with potential to prevent cancer or aid recovery. We'll also analyze relevant studies, keeping in mind that new research emerges constantly.

Note: When interpreting scientific studies, it's important to bear in mind the hierarchy of evidence. Cell culture findings are considered less impactful than results from studies conducted on mice. Similarly, mouse-based conclusions are outweighed by findings from human studies. Case studies and preliminary results from small human trials hold less weight than outcomes from umbrella reviews, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and more extensive, long-term human trials.


Table of Contents:
  • Best Anti Cancer Supplements
    1. Vitamin D3 and K2
    2. Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
    3. Vitamin C, E and Selenium
    4. Turmeric (Curcumin)
    5. Magnesium and Molecular Hydrogen
    6. Green tea (EGCG)
    7. Quercetin
    8. Melatonin
    9. Zinc
    10. Garlic (Allicin)
  • Diet and Cancer Prevention
  • Cancer Fighting Foods
  • Don't use tobacco
  • Alcohol and Cancer
  • Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
  • Fasting and Cancer
  • Avoid risky behaviors
  • Sleep Quality, Stress and Desk Job
  • Protect yourself from the sun
  • Get regular medical care and Health Screening
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
  • Avoid exposure to environmental toxins and infections that contribute to cancer

Cancer and supplements

When it comes to cancer of any kind, it’s important to realize that no dietary supplement can fully treat or cure cancer, according to BreastCancer.org. However, there are some supplements that can potentially help prevent cancer or assist in your cancer recovery. 

While many vitamins and minerals can benefit your general health, there’s a huge market of unregulated supplements that may provide no added benefit to your health. Certain supplements even have the potential to negatively impact cancer treatments. This is because some supplements can counteract medications or medical therapies. If you’re thinking about supplementing your diet with anti-cancer vitamins, always talk to your doctor first.

Best Cancer Fighting Supplements

We have ranked the top 10 cancer fighting supplements to help you with your research. We have also organised and summarised relevant and salient research information in one place. Below, we look at the most published and studied categories.

Important Note: This information is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.

Here is the list (listed in order of importance):

1. Vitamin D3 and K2

Is vitamin D the most powerful anti cancer supplement? Vitamin D can absorb calcium and help the immune, muscle, and nervous systems function properly. There are more than 11,000 search results on vitamin D and cancer on PubMed

Prevention

Best Evidence: A 2023 systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 RCTs (randomized controlled trials), published in Ageing Research Reviews (Kuznia 2023) found vitamin D3 supplementation reduced cancer mortality by 6%. This wasn’t considered statistically significant, but when only studies involving daily vitamin D intake were analyzed, cancer mortality dropped by a significant 12%.

The first randomized-controlled trial (DO-HEALTH) trial to investigate the combination of three complementary treatments for the prevention of cancer and suggest that the combination of daily vitamin D3, supplemental marine omega-3s, and a simple home exercise program may be effective in the prevention of invasive cancer among generally healthy and active adults aged 70 and older.

Findings from a 3 year Randomized Controlled Trial with more than 2,000 participants observed a 61% reduction in the risk of invasive cancer among patients who completed a home exercise program and took vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids daily.

Dosage: Supplemental 2000 IU/day of vitamin D3, and/or 1 g/day of marine omega-3s, and/or a simple home strength exercise (SHEP) programme compared to placebo and control exercise.

These results, from the DO-HEALTH trial (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01745263), were published in Frontiers in Aging 2022.
 
A number of epidemiologic studies have also investigated whether people with higher vitamin D intakes or higher blood levels of vitamin D have lower risks of specific cancers. The results of these studies have been inconsistent, possibly because of the challenges in carrying out such studies. For example, dietary studies do not account for vitamin D made in the skin from sunlight exposure, and the level of vitamin D measured in the blood at a single point in time (as in most studies) may not reflect a person’s true vitamin D status. Also, it is possible that people with higher vitamin D intakes or blood levels are more likely to have other healthy behaviors. It may be one of these other behaviors, rather than vitamin D intake, that influences cancer risk.

A Secondary Analysis of the VITAL Randomized Clinical Trial studied the effect of Vitamin D3 Supplements on Development of Advanced Cancer. The Harvard research, published in the JAMA Network Open medical journal (2020), overturns the initial findings of a study of 25,000 people published in 2018.

Initially researchers believed there was no benefit from taking vitamin D, as they detected no reduced incidence of cancer diagnoses overall. But they were puzzled because cancer deaths went down among those taking the supplements. Meaning, there was no benefit in terms of prevention of cancer but a reduction in cancer deaths was observed.

A secondary analysis, found this anomaly can be explained by the fact that vitamin D seems to stop metastatic cancers - those aggressive types which spread to other parts of the body. That said, when stratified by BMI (body mass index), there was no significant reduction for the vitamin D arm in incident metastatic or fatal cancer among those with overweight or obesity (BMI 25-<30).

The cancers for which the most human data are available are colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Numerous epidemiologic studies have shown that higher intake or blood levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (R). In contrast, the Women’s Health Initiative randomized trial found that healthy women who took vitamin D and calcium supplements for an average of 7 years did not have a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer (NEJM 2006). Some scientists have pointed out that the relatively low level of vitamin D supplementation (10 μg, or 400 IU, once a day), the ability of participants to take additional vitamin D on their own, and the short duration of participant follow-up in this trial might explain why no reduction in colorectal cancer risk was found. 

According to BreastCancer.orgresearch suggestsTrusted Source that certain cancers such as breast cancer, can have a higher risk of occurring when the body has low levels of vitamin D. 

Studies also show a link between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer (Sizar, 2020).

In 2016, a landmark study published in PLOS ONE found that women over 55 with blood concentrations of vitamin D higher than 40 ng/ml, had a 67% lower risk of cancer compared women with levels lower than 20 ng/ml.

Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that's nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies.

Although the role of vitamin D in cancer prevention remains an area of research interest and debate, avoiding deficient levels is recommended. (American Cancer Society 2020)

Vitamin D can also be absorbed through sunlight, or with the following diet such as fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified milk.

Make sure to take 500 mg to 1000 mg of magnesium and 150 mcg of vitamin K2, (not K1) which are important cofactors for optimizing vitamin D function. And, remember the only way you know what your vitamin D level is, is to test it. Vitamin D level should be in a therapeutic range of 50 to 70 ng/ml for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Most people are shocked how low their level is when they finally get around to testing it.

That said, as researchers explained in Nutrients (2022):

“Vitamin D supplementation is not the magic pill that miraculously solves the cancer burden or that can replace a healthy lifestyle. It is necessary to foster a good environment and invigorate a healthy lifestyle, including a high-quality diet and physical activity. Both have been proven to confer health benefits in many diseases, including cancer, and are the best preventive measures available.”
 

Treatment
  • A 2019 meta-analysis showed statistically significant reductions in cancer mortality.
  • A Secondary Analysis of the VITAL Randomized Clinical Trial (JAMA 2020) showed more significant reductions in cancer risk for those with normal BMI (<25).
Vitamin D and Chemotherapy

Multiple studies indicate that a significant proportion of cancer patients are vitamin D-deficient (level < 20 ng/mL) and that higher plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are associated with improved survival in colorectal, breast, gastric, and lymphoma cancer patients [Systematic Review 2014]. Meta-analyses and clinical trials demonstrate that vitamin D supplementation may reduce cancer mortality and improve survival in cancer patients, especially when used in combination with chemotherapy (Meta-analysis 2023). SUNSHINE (JAMA 2019), a clinical trial on metastatic colorectal cancer patients, showed that “high-dose” vitamin D3 (aiming for a level of >50 ng/mL) combined with standard chemotherapy resulted in improved progression-free survival compared to standard-dose vitamin D3.

Note: The dosage for vitamin D in prevention (1,000 to 2,000 IU daily) is very much different from the high dose treatment dosage i.e. 20,000 to 50,000 IU daily. Always consult your doctor first! 

2. Vitamin C, E and Selenium

PubMed has indexed more than 3,000 research studies on vitamin C and cancer and more than 5,000 studies on vitamin E and cancer. United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended the use of Vitamin C and E supplementation for cancer prevention (R).

Prevention

Best Evidence: An umbrella review* (Xu 2022) to assess the existing systematic reviews and meta-analyses for the association between vitamin C intake and multiple health outcomes; showed that vitamin C intake was associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), oesophageal cancer, gastric cancer, cervical cancer and lung cancer with an increment of 50–100 mg per day.

Beneficial associations were also identified for respiratory, neurological, ophthalmologic, musculoskeletal, renal and dental outcomes. A total of 76 meta-analyses (51 papers) of randomised controlled trials and observational studies with 63 unique health outcomes were identified. Harmful associations were found for breast cancer and kidney stones for vitamin C supplement intake. 

*Umbrella review: An umbrella review, or a review of reviews, is a systematic review that only considers other systematic reviews as an eligible study type for inclusion.

2022 - Obese women who took vitamin C and B6 at amounts that exceeded the recommended daily intake levels were associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, according to a five-year long South Korean cohort study. 40,432 women without a history of cancer at baseline were included in this study.

2022 - A meta-analysis to review the association between vitamins and brain cancer showed that intake of vitamin C, β-carotene, and folate can reduce the risk of brain cancer, while high serum α-tocopherol (vitamin E) concentration also has a protective effect on brain cancer.

2017 meta-analysis of 11 studies concluded that patients with lower concentrations of serum vitamin E (the vitamin E level in your blood) had a higher risk for colorectal cancer.

Treatment

2023 - A systematic review to evaluate the existing literature on the safety and efficacy of vitamin C, E and selenium supplementation in oncology patients. Findings were generally favorable among the studies, and adverse effects of supplementation were limited. The review concluded that antioxidant supplements may provide benefits in reducing incidence or severity of treatment-induced side effects with limited risk for adverse effects.

2022 - A systematic review on the effect of vitamins C and E on cancer survival showed improvement of survival and progression rates of cancers by vitamins C and E. However, the authors concluded that more high quality trials with large sample sizes are required to confirm.

Vitamin C is known as an antioxidant, but at high concentrations, vitamin C can kill cancer cells through a pro-oxidant property (Transl Oncol. 2020). This study has also demonstrated that vitamin C treatment with magnesium supplementation provided more effective anticancer therapy than vitamin C treatment alone.


High-dose vitamin C cancer therapy was introduced by Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron [R]. Clinical demonstration results by Pauling and Cameron showed that intravenous injection of 10 g/day of vitamin C extended the survival time of terminal cancer patients by about 4.2 times. However, results from the Mayo Clinic in 1979 showed that the survival time of vitamin C–treated patients was even shorter than that of the placebo group patients [R]. A significant difference between those two research groups was the route of AA administration: intravenous injection and oral administration, respectively. 

When treating cancer, IV needs to be used because you simply cannot take the high dosages required orally. Doses over 10 to 20 grams of ascorbic acid will cause loose stools when taken orally, but IV administration bypasses the limitation of the gut. It also allows the vitamin C to get directly into the blood to the extracellular fluid, into the tumor microenvironment, to penetrate the tumor and saturate the entirety of the tumor.

To understand the mechanism of AA's anticancer activity, many research groups have treated colon, prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, brain, and stomach cancer cells and chemically or genetically transformed cancer cells with AA and showed cancer growth inhibition and even cancer cell death through hydrogen peroxide–mediated reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation [R]. In most cases, the pharmacological concentration of vitamin C required for anticancer effects (EC50 value of 1–10 mM) could only be achieved by intravenous administration. Thus, to apply vitamin C as an anticancer therapy, a high intracellular concentration in cancer cells is critically important (R).

According to the Mayo Clinic (2023):

"More recently, vitamin C given through a vein (intravenously) has been found to have different effects than vitamin C taken in pill form. This has prompted renewed interest in the use of vitamin C as a cancer treatment.

There's still no evidence that vitamin C alone can cure cancer, but researchers are studying whether it might boost the effectiveness of other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, or reduce treatment side effects.

There are still no large, controlled clinical trials that have shown a substantial effect of vitamin C on cancer, but some preliminary studies do suggest there may be a benefit to combining standard treatments with high-dose IV vitamin C."
 
According to the concluding remarks from a 2020 article from the National Cancer Institute:

Vitamin C as a cancer therapy has had a controversial past. What has been intriguing are small clinical trials that suggest some responses, but with no clear rationale for why cancers should respond to vitamin C or a path forward for explaining which patients are most likely to respond. Now a growing number of preclinical studies are showing how high-dose vitamin C might benefit cancer patients. Importantly, these preclinical studies provide a clear rationale and potential biomarkers that may help personalize the therapeutic approach and identify patient populations that are likely to respond to high-dose vitamin C therapy. Since the mechanisms of action of vitamin C are becoming better defined, we can propose vitamin C combinations in a more rational, hypothesis-driven manner. In addition, given the current high financial cost of new cancer drugs, it seems rational to improve the effectiveness of current therapies by studying their clinical interactions with vitamin C. In our view, the implementation of this treatment paradigm could provide benefit to many cancer patients.

Ascorbic acid vs whole food vitamin C?

Synthetic Ascorbic acid is NOT the same as whole food vitamin C. If you were to compare the two to a car, vitamin C would be the whole car, fully functional, and the engine is an enzyme called tyrosinase, while ascorbic acid is the car frame, with no moving parts.

Whole food vitamin C can also boost your copper level, as vitamin C contains an enzyme called tyrosinase, which has 2 atoms of copper in it. Ascorbic acid is prooxidant, while vitamin C complex is actually an antioxidant. Anything that has copper is going to be antioxidant.


3. Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)

PubMed has indexed more than 3,000 research studies on Omega-3 and cancer. Most people use fish oil supplements to enhance the amount of omega-3’s in their diet. 

Best Evidence: A 2021 report (Nature Communications) suggest that higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids in circulation correlate with lower risk of premature death from age-associated diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The analysis was conducted with data from 17 prospective cohort studies examining the associations between blood omega-3 fatty acid levels and risk for all-cause mortality. Over a median of 16 years of follow-up, 15,720 deaths occurred among 42,466 individuals. The researchers found that, after adjustment for relevant risk factors, risk for death from all causes was significantly lower (by 15-18%, at least p < 0.003) in the highest vs the lowest quintile for circulating long chain (20-22 carbon) omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids). Similar relationships were seen for death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes. 

The first randomized-controlled trial (DO-HEALTH trial) to investigate the combination of three complementary treatments for the prevention of cancer and suggest that the combination of daily vitamin D3, supplemental marine omega-3s, and a simple home exercise program may be effective in the prevention of invasive cancer among generally healthy and active adults aged 70 and older.

Findings from a 3 year Randomized Controlled Trial with more than 2,000 participants observed a 61% reduction in the risk of invasive cancer among patients who completed a home exercise program and took vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids daily. These results, from the DO-HEALTH trial, were published in Frontiers in Aging 2022.
 
Many governments recommend eating omega-3 containing fatty fish, two times per week. But that is often not enough. Ideally, people would need to eat fatty fish four times per week, while also supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, at least 1,000 mg of pure omega-3 (DHA and EPA) per day.
However, fish oil was shown in one study on mice (2015)Trusted Source to possibly reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and for that reason ground flax seed is a worthy alternative.

Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers. When supplementing, try to avoid flaxseed oil because it lacks the nutrients of ground flax seed. Ground flax seed can be purchased online or found in many larger grocery store chains. Simply sprinkle some ground flax seed on your food and enjoy.

Make sure you buy high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplements, meaning that the omega-3 fatty acids are pure and have not oxidized much (having low “TOTOX” value).

TOTOX value stands for total oxidation value. The omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from fish oil are highly sensitive to oxidation. This means that they are rapidly affected by contact with oxygen. Oxidised fatty acids are not beneficial to our health. For this reason, a good fish oil supplement has a low TOTOX value. The maximum TOTOX value is set at 26 by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA omega-3.

4. Turmeric (Curcumin)

Curcumin is one of the nutrients with the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer. There are more than 7,000 search results on curcumin and cancer on PubMed and more than 50 clinical trials with curcumin, most of which are still ongoing. The spice turmeric can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting cancer. 

Best Evidence:review paper published in 2022, analysed 21 human studies. Sixteen out of 21 clinical trials were associated with the effectiveness of curcumin or turmeric on various types of cancer, and the other five clinical trials were related to the evaluation of the efficacy of curcumin or turmeric in relieving the side effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The emerging data from the clinical trials confirm that curcumin has the potential for cancer prevention and intervention. 

Interestingly, curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer (Arslan 2022), which is really odd since cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies.

Studies show that the curcumin in turmeric may kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth. This preclinical research has taken curcumin from the lab to the clinic. 

The benefits of curcumin may include: 
  • blocking cancer cells from multiplying
  • killing colon, breast, prostate, and melanoma cancer cells
  • slowing tumor growth
Both curcuminoids and related turmeric products have been sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe.

Why Whole Turmeric Is Ineffective

Unfortunately, while there's some curcumin in whole turmeric, there's not enough in the regular spice to achieve clinically relevant results. The turmeric root itself contains only about 3% curcumin concentration. Another major limitation of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is that it is poorly absorbed. When taken in its raw form, you're only absorbing about 1% of the available curcumin.

Because it's not easily absorbed through your gastrointestinal tract, it's more effective to use a high-quality bioavailable curcumin extract, according to a 2013 study. A typical anticancer dose is just under 1 teaspoon of curcumin extract three or four times daily.

However, in the case of colon cancer, this poor absorption into the bloodstream may be an advantage. As there is poor absorption, higher levels of curcumin stay in the intestinal tract for longer periods of time, having an effect on gastrointestinal cancers. 

In one study, participants took a 1,080 milligram (mg) dose per day of curcumin for 10 to 30 days between their initial biopsy and surgical removal. The patients taking the supplement experienced a reduction in blood levels of inflammatory agent, improvement in their body weight and an increased number of dying tumor cells.

In a 2016 study, a team of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and at Pondicherry University, India, discovered the bioactive ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, can both prevent and cure bowel cancers. The team found the compound triggered cancer cell death by increasing a level of protein labeled GADD45a. Lead author Rajasekaran Baskaran, Ph.D., who has more than 20 years of experience in cancer research, commented:

"Studies on the effect of curcumin on cancer and normal cells will be useful for the ongoing preclinical and clinical investigations on this potential chemo-preventive agent."

New Curcumin Forms

Convenience and efficiency has driven many of the changes in the forms of curcumin in later years. Because it's a fat-loving or lipophilic molecule, many newer preparations now include some sort of oil or fat, which improves its absorbability and bioavailability. Such preparations typically have seven to eight times higher absorption than the raw, unprocessed 95% concentration of dry powder. There are also newer sustained release preparations.

Turmeric and black pepper each have health benefits, due to the compounds curcumin and piperine. As piperine enhances curcumin absorption in the body by up to 2,000%, combining the spices magnifies their effects. (Healthline)

 

5. Magnesium and Molecular Hydrogen

PubMed has indexed more than 5,000 research studies on magnesium and cancer.

Colorectal Cancer

Several studies have demonstrated an association between high magnesium intake and reduced risk of colorectal cancer (CRC).

An analysis of the prospective, Swedish Mammography Cohort (JAMA 2005), evaluated 61,433 women aged 40 to 75 without a history of cancer for a mean follow-up of 14.8 years. The highest quintile of magnesium intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of CRC compared with the lowest quintile. This benefit was observed for both colon and rectal cancers.

A case-control study evaluated 2204 subjects from the Tennessee Colorectal Polyp Study (2007), which demonstrated that increasing total magnesium intake was significantly associated with decreasing risk of CR.. The highest tertile of dietary magnesium intake (>298 mg/day) was significantly associated with reduced risk of CRC in an age-adjusted model.

A study of 140,601 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative (2015) with an mean follow-up of 13 years demonstrated a significant reduction in CRC risk with the highest quintile of total magnesium intake compared with the lowest quintile of magnesium intake. The benefit was driven by colon cancer, with a trend for rectal cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer

A study of 66,806 subjects aged 50 to 76 at baseline from the Vitamins and Lifestyle cohort (Nature 2015) evaluated magnesium intake and the incidence of pancreatic cancer during a mean follow-up of 6.8 years. Subjects with magnesium intake below the recommended dietary allowance were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, particularly in those whose intake was less than 75% of the recommended dietary allowance. In this study, a 100 mg/day decrease in magnesium intake resulted in a 24% increase in risk of pancreatic cancer.

Molecular Hydrogen and Cancer

There is little evidence to show that molecular hydrogen can reduce the risk of cancer. 

However, in terms of cancer management or treatment, studies involving the effects of H2 on cancer were systematically reviewed. More than 600 articles related to molecular hydrogen and cancer were retrieved from Cochrane, PubMed and Google Scholar, and 27 articles were included for this systematic review (2023). 

Based on the authors' analysis, "H2 plays a promising therapeutic role as an independent therapy as well as an adjuvant in combination therapy, resulting in an overall improvement in survivability, quality of life, blood parameters, and tumour reduction."

Although H2 has demonstrated significant anti-cancer effects, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. Many studies have shown that H2 therapy can reduce oxidative stress. This, however, contradicts radiation therapy and chemotherapy, in which ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) are required to induce apoptosis and combat cancer. 


Note: Most Molecular Hydrogen tablets uses pure elemental magnesium as its carrier and provides you with approximately 80 mg of magnesium per tablet. So, you receive also highly bioavailable magnesium for a healthy brain, muscles, cells, kidneys, and heart.

6. Melatonin

PubMed has indexed more than 3,300 research studies on melatonin and cancer.

Melatonin is one of the most important antioxidant molecules. In the human body — aside from having direct antioxidant effects — it also stimulates the synthesis of glutathione and other important antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and catalase.

Many people are not aware that only 5% of your body’s melatonin — which is also a potent anticancer agent — is produced in your pineal gland. The other 95% is produced inside your mitochondria — provided you get sufficient near infrared exposure which is typically from sun on your bare skin. This is why vitamin D is more than likely a biomarker for sun exposure, which is intricately involved in melatonin production. (R)

The Mediterranean Diet (MD) dietary pattern is also rich in antioxidants, such as melatonin. A systematic review published in Antioxidants (Elena 2023) showed high melatonin contents in MD-related foods, such as tomatoes, olive oil, red wine, beer, nuts, and vegetables. The consumption of specific MD foods increases melatonin levels and improves the antioxidant status in plasma.

Melatonin is also known to play a fundamental role in regulating the sleep-wake rhythm; however, in the last 10 years it has been discovered that it is actually involved in many other biological mechanisms, also playing an important role in the inflammatory, metabolic and neoplastic processes. In fact, the mechanisms by which melatonin performs an anti-tumor effect are many: it has an anti-oxidant effect that protects against DNA damage, acts as a scavenger of reactive oxygen species (which undermine genomic stability), stimulates DNA repair mechanisms, improves the functioning of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, and inhibits mitochondrial mitophagy and telomerase activity (Molecules 2018).

In addition, melatonin increases the expression of the p53 protein, induces its phosphorylation, inhibiting cell proliferation, promotes apoptosis, reduces the levels of the vascular endothelial growth factor and endothelin-1, fundamental for tumor growth and metastasis formation, reduces inflammatory processes and cell migration (Molecules 2018).

Reduction of melatonin production has also been seen in some types of cancer (breast and prostate) (Mogavero 2021).

Melatonin - Treatment

2022 - An umbrella review of meta-analyses based on randomized controlled trials (Pharmacological Research 2022):

"Survival at one year (P < 0.005) significantly increased with cancer patients."

2020 - A case series of 14 advanced cancer patients (Trends in Oncology 2020), treated with high dose (1,000 mg/day) of melatonin; achieved a disease control of 54% of the patients:

"Moreover, this preliminary study may also suggest that high dose melatonin has no toxicity in cancer patients with poor clinical status, as well as in healthy subjects."

2005 - A systematic review of 10 randomized controlled trials (J Pineal Res 2005):

"All trials included solid tumor cancers. All trials were conducted at the same hospital network, and were unblinded. Melatonin reduced the risk of death at 1 yr (relative risk: 0.66). Effects were consistent across melatonin dose, and type of cancer. No severe adverse events were reported. The substantial reduction in risk of death, low adverse events reported and low costs related to this intervention suggest great potential for melatonin in treating cancer."


7. Green Tea (EGCG)

PubMed has indexed more than 2,000 research studies on EGCG and cancer.

The Minnesota Green Tea Trial (MGTT. 2015) is the largest and longest double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized intervention study that specifically evaluated the effects of oral GTE (green tea extract) containing defined quantities of EGCG on established biomarkers of breast cancer risk.

They randomized and stratified 1075 healthy postmenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer according to their breast tissue density and catechol-O-methyltransferase genotypes and divided them into two groups: 537 placebo and 538 green tea groups. Green tea group participants took 4 capsules that contained 843 mg EGCG, whereas the placebo group took capsules without green tea extracts.

Researchers measured changes in percent mammographic density, circulating endogenous sex hormones, and proteins of the insulin-like growth factor axis. Their results showed that supplementation with green tea extract could modify and reduce mammographic density (MD) and protect against breast cancer, even though it was only significant in younger women (50–55 years) and had no effect in older women (R), an age-dependent effect similar to those of tamoxifen.

According to a 2018 review, EGCG and green tea extracts may help prevent or delay cancer onset, cancer recurrence, and secondary growths from cancer.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) state that studies of green tea and cancer in humans have so far produced inconsistent results.

Several epidemiological studies (2011) have reported that the consumption of green tea may decrease cancer risk. Studies have also confirmed numerous health benefits of green tea including prevention of cancer (RR) and cardiovascular disease, as well as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiarthritic, antibacterial, and antiviral effects. (RRRR).

Green tea also contains chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and anti-angiogenic properties, and the catechins in green tea polyphenols show very strong anti-angiogenic properties.

If you have cancer, consider drinking up to 3 cups of green tea per day to experience the benefits. Green tea pills are also available, but may be too concentrated.

Some studies show health benefits in people who drink as little as one cup per day, while other studies deem five or more cups per day to be optimal (SourceSource).

8. Zinc and Cancer

PubMed has indexed more than 20,000 research studies on zinc and cancer.

Given the important role of zinc in a wide range of enzymatic reactions and physiological processes, zinc deficiency has been identified in a variety of diseases, notably cancer. In recent years, multiple meta-analyses and reviews looking at zinc levels in individual cancer types have been published, as have a plethora of primary studies demonstrating a link between low zinc levels and specific types of cancer.

In a 2023 review, the authors summarize recent evidence implicating low zinc concentrations in serum or tissues as a characteristic in a wide range of cancers.

On the basis of the correlation between low zinc levels and poor cancer outcomes, many authors have speculated that zinc supplementation could be used to reduce the risk of developing cancer. A retrospective analysis published by Hosui et al. in 2018 reported that zinc supplementation appears to maintain liver function and decrease the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. A more recent study by the same group found that oral zinc supplementation decreased the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma development in patients who received direct-acting antivirals to eradicate HCV [Hosui et al. 2021]. Valenzano et al. in 2021 also reported that in Barrett’s esophagus, administration of zinc gluconate resulted in the upregulation of several tumor-suppressive miRNAs and downregulation of inflammation-inducing proteins. Additionally, a 2022 mini-review by Iqbal et al. noted limited evidence for a correlation between high dietary intake of zinc and a reduced risk of breast cancer, suggesting that dietary supplementation could decrease the chance of developing this malignancy. These preliminary studies suggest that there could be potential for using zinc supplementation in the clinical setting to help prevent cancer development.

The extensive evidence demonstrating the prevalence of zinc deficiency in a wide range of cancer types suggests that zinc deficiency should be considered a relatively widespread feature of multiple cancers. While research regarding the potential clinical utility of testing zinc levels in patients with or at risk of developing cancer is still preliminary, the data suggest that zinc deficiency may be a potential biomarker for identifying patients at risk of developing cancer, predicting outcomes in patients with cancer, and even as a preventive or adjunctive treatment for cancer.

9. Quercetin and Cancer

PubMed has indexed more than 4,000 research studies on quercetin and cancer. The safety and potential usefulness of quercetin for the prevention and treatment of cancer have been documented in both animal experiments and a phase I clinical trial.

2022 - A paper published in August 2022 in Nutrition Research analyzed the pro-apoptotic effect that quercetin has on aging cells. The paper reviewed preclinical and early phase data using quercetin as a senolytic agent and found the data showed it was effective in “preventing or alleviating cancer formation.”

The authors reviewed the importance of cellular aging in the development of cancer cells and the effect that quercetin may have on the suppression of cancer cell proliferation. 

Cellular senescence is a dynamic and multi-step process that is associated with alterations in metabolic activity and gene expression. This can compromise tissue regeneration and contribute to aging. On the other hand, by removing senescent cells, age-related dysfunction can be attenuated and potentially extend the lifespan.

According to Mount Sinai, quercetin should be used with caution as it may interact with certain antibiotics by reducing the effectiveness of the drug. It may also enhance the effect of some blood thinners, which can increase your risk of bleeding. In addition to these, it may interact with corticosteroids, digoxin, cyclosporine and fluoroquinolones.

10. Garlic (Allicin) and Onion

PubMed has indexed more than 1,200 research studies on garlic and cancerGarlic and onions belong to the Allium genus of plants.

2023 - A randomized controlled trial (RCT) on garlic and gastric cancer (GC), published in January 2023found a significant reduction in the risk of developing GC with increasing dietary intake of allium vegetables, particularly garlic vegetables. 

The study was conducted on the basis of the Shandong Intervention Trial, a randomized, placebo-controlled, factorial-designed trial (1995-2003) in a well-recognized high-risk area for GC in China. Participants were continuously followed up to December 2017 for 22.3 y (1995-2017). A total of 3,229 subjects were included.

2020 - A meta-analysis of 11 studies, published in January 2020, did find evidence that garlic could reduce the risk of ColoRectal Cancer. 

Another study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology (2019) revealed the odds of getting ColoRectal Cancer were 79% lower in those who a diet high in allium vegetables, which include garlic, leeks and onions.

One study of 543,220 participants found that those who ate lots of Allium vegetables, such as garlic, onions, leeks and shallots, had a lower risk of stomach cancer than those who rarely consumed them (Source).

A study of 471 men showed that a higher intake of garlic was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (Source).

Based on these findings, including 2–5 grams (approximately one clove) of fresh garlic into your diet per day can help you take advantage of its health-promoting properties.

Garlic is a great choice when it comes to giving your body a little extra protection. To reap the benefits of garlic, you should eat one clove per day, or 300 to 1,000 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of garlic extract.
    The active component in garlic is allicin, a compound that has been shown to kill off cancer cells in multiple test-tube studies (SourceSourceSource).

    There is evidence demonstrating garlic can kill cancer cells in vitro. Several studies have analyzed the effects that dietary garlic may have on the development of colorectal cancer. 

    Several clinical studies have found an association between garlic intake and a lower risk of certain types of cancer.

    Despite the promising results showing an association between garlic and a reduced risk of cancer, more studies are needed to examine whether other factors play a role.

    Related: Garlic, the ‘King of Cancer Prevention’
     

    Diet and Cancer Prevention

    AACR Cancer Progress Report 2023
    diet and cancer prevention

    Please remember that reducing your risk of getting cancer doesn’t simply depend on one nutrient or supplement. Even if you zealously consume various supplements, you can still fall victim to this disease if you fail to address your other risk factors.

    Best evidence: A 2024 umbrella review* (BMJ) of the literature confirmed what multiple studies have shown — the higher your intake of ultraprocessed food, the higher your risk of adverse health outcomes. The analysis, which included 45 unique pooled analyses and 9,888,373 participants, found direct associations between 32 health parameters and exposure to ultraprocessed food, including metabolic dysfunction, cancer, mental, respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues, as well as all-cause mortality.

    *Umbrella review: An umbrella review, or a review of reviews, is a systematic review that only considers other systematic reviews as an eligible study type for inclusion.

    One major change in cancer prevention guidelines over time, which reflects the current and evolving scientific evidence, has been a shift from a reductionist or nutrient-centric approach to a more holistic concept of diet that is characterized as dietary patterns. A focus on dietary patterns, in contrast to individual nutrients and bioactive compounds, is more consistent with what and how people actually eat. People eat whole foods (not nutrients) that, in aggregate, represent an overall dietary pattern wherein dietary components often contribute additively or synergistically to modify cancer risk.

    Emerging evidence, largely epidemiological but also including a few controlled intervention trials, suggests that healthy (vs unhealthy) dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cancer, especially colon and breast cancer (ACS 2020).

    Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of dietary interventions aimed at preventing cancer, conversely, are expensive and largely impractical. Therefore, most current evidence concerning diet and cancer prevention is derived from observational epidemiologic studies, in particular prospective cohort studies, mechanistic studies of food components in laboratory animals and cell culture, and RCTs when available.

    A 2018 study published by Cambridge University Press found an association between higher intakes of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and an increased risk of obesity-related cancers. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2020 concluded that sugars may be a risk factor for cancer, breast in particular. Cancer cells are ravenous for sugar, consuming it at a rate 200 times that of normal cells.

    A consensus on the best dietary approach for reducing cancer risk has yet to be determined, and further research is needed. However, the findings of the Cell study on MGO (2024) support reducing sugar intake as a means to mitigate cancer risk. 

    In 2023, a study published in Cell determined that a ketogenic diet may be an effective nutritional intervention for cancer patients as it helped slow the growth of cancer cells in mice—while a review published in JAMA Oncology in 2022 found that the current evidence available supports a plant-enriched diet for reducing cancer risk.

    A large study that involved 79,952 US-based men found that those who ate the largest amounts of healthy plant-based foods had a 22% lower risk of bowel cancer compared with those who ate the least. The team suggested that the link is clearer for men, who have an overall higher risk of bowel cancer. Their findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine (Nov 2022).

    The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and protein diet that forces the body to rely on ketones instead of glucose as a predominant energy source. It has shown potential in preclinical and early clinical studies for brain cancer treatment. By altering the metabolism of cancer cells, the ketogenic diet may inhibit tumor growth and enhance the effectiveness of other therapies (Neurology 2021).

    Another 2017 review of 24 human studies concluded that the probability of achieving an anti-tumor effect seems greater than that of causing serious side effects when offering Keto Diets to cancer patients.

    Intermittent fasting or prolonged fasting refers to periods of restricted calorie intake or complete food avoidance. Like the Ketogenic diet, fasting triggers the use of ketones as the predominant energy source and may sensitize cancer cells to treatments and potentially slow down tumor growth. Fasting-induced metabolic changes may also favor the protection of normal tissues from therapy side effects and improve tolerance and quality of life impacts to care. 

    Thomas Seyfried said that by keeping the mitochondria in cells healthy, people are less likely to get cancer. He said this can be achieved through a certain period of fasting (drinking only water), a low-carb diet, and exercise.

    Dr. Graham Simpson, medical director of Opt Health stresses the importance of real food and healthy macronutrients with a low-carb intake for the health of our cells. “The mitochondria is the most important signaling molecule and energy-producing organelle that we have in our body. [Eat] lots of vegetables, healthy proteins and healthy fats, fish, eggs, yogurt.” He continues, “Lots of green, above-ground vegetables, some fruits, everything that is naturally grown and is not processed.”

    Although eating healthy foods can't ensure cancer prevention, it might reduce the risk. Consider the following in general:
    • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods. Limit refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
    • Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Alcohol increases the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver. Drinking more increases the risk.
    • Limit processed meats. Eating processed meat often can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer. This news comes from a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.
    Another study conducted by Johns Hopkins University (2020) with a median follow-up of 11 years found that intensive lifestyle intervention (reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity) can reduce the risk of obesity-related cancers (including esophageal cancer, colon cancer, rectal cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, thyroid cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and multiple myeloma) by 16 percent. The researchers believe that this is due to the lifestyle intervention that led to the weight loss of the subjects.
     
    The Mediterranean-DASH diet

    People who eat a Mediterranean diet that includes extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter. They eat fish instead of red meat.

    A study published in January 2024 in Diabetes & Metabolism shows that a Mediterranean diet style of eating may help reduce MGO (methylglyoxal) levels.

    The Mediterranean-DASH (MIND) diet combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Here’s what we know:
    Halma et al. 2023

    Cancer Fighting Foods

    What are the most powerful cancer fighting foods? No single food can protect you against cancer by itself.

    But research shows that a diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and other plant foods helps lower risk for many cancers. In laboratory studies, many individual minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals demonstrate anti-cancer effects. By including more foods that fight cancer into your diet, you will help reduce your risk of developing cancer.


    The development of cancer, in particular, has been shown to be heavily influenced by your diet. The term “superfood” is a fairly new term referring to foods that offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories.

    Do take note that we are talking about foods to prevent your risk of cancer and not about treating cancer with foods. Cancer treatments will be something that you will need to discuss with your cancer specialist. 

    Many foods contain beneficial compounds that could help decrease the growth of cancer. There are also several studies showing that a higher intake of certain foods could be associated with a lower risk of the disease.

    Some doctors and media channels argue that there is very little evidence to support the use of foods to prevent cancer.

    We will delve into the research and look at a list of foods that may lower your risk of cancer. 

    Tomato (Lycopene)

    It has long been known that tomato consumption reduces the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease, due to its high lycopene content (Ratto 2022).

    There are more than 1,500 search results on lycopene and cancer on PubMed

    Best Evidence: In a 2020 prospective study of 27,934 Adventist men, published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control (The Adventist Health Study 2) found that men who ate tomatoes almost every day had a 28 percent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who didn’t. Lycopene may also protect the skin from the sun damage that can cause skin cancer, and some research suggests that it helps women maintain bone mass as they age.

    A review of 17 studies also found that a higher intake of raw tomatoes, cooked tomatoes and lycopene were all associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. 2013).

    Olive Oil

    Olive oil is loaded with health benefits, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the staples of the Mediterranean diet. There are more than 1,200 search results on olive oil and cancer on PubMed

    Best Evidence:meta-analysis of 45 studies published in 2022 found that people who consume olive oil daily have a 31 percent lower risk of any cancer compared to those who consume olive oil less frequently.

    Swapping out other oils in your diet for olive oil is a simple way to take advantage of its health benefits. You can drizzle it over salads and cooked vegetables, or try using it in your marinades for meat, fish or poultry.

    Though these studies show that there may be an association between olive oil intake and cancer, there are likely other factors involved as well. More human studies are needed to look at the direct effects of olive oil on cancer in people.

    Broccoli

    Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a plant compound found in cruciferous vegetables that may have potent anticancer properties.

    There are more than 1,000 search results on broccoli and cancer on PubMed.

    Best Evidence: One analysis of 35 studies showed that eating more cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of colorectal and colon cancer (Ann Oncol. 2013).

    Including broccoli with a few meals per week may come with some cancer-fighting benefits.

    However, keep in mind that the available research hasn’t looked directly at how broccoli may affect cancer in humans.

    Instead, it has been limited to test-tube, animal and observational studies that either investigated the effects of cruciferous vegetables, or the effects of a specific compound in broccoli. Thus, more human studies are needed.

    Citrus Fruits

    Eating citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges has also been associated with a lower risk of cancer in some studies. There are more than 400 search results on citrus fruits and cancer on PubMed and more than 18,000 research studies on fruits and cancer.

    One large study found that participants who ate a higher amount of citrus fruits had a lower risk of developing cancers of the digestive and upper respiratory tracts (Source).

    A review looking at nine studies also found that a greater intake of citrus fruits was linked to a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer (Source).

    Finally, another review of 14 studies showed that a high intake, or at least three servings per week, of citrus fruit reduced the risk of stomach cancer by 28% (Source).

    These studies suggest that including a few servings of citrus fruits in your diet each week may lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer.

    Keep in mind that these studies don’t account for other factors that may be involved. More studies are needed on how citrus fruits specifically affect cancer development.

    Dietary Fibers

    Best evidence: A 2023 umbrella review of the literature indicated that a high intake of dietary fiber is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including esophageal, gastric, colon, rectal, colorectal adenoma, breast, endometrial, ovarian, renal cell, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Conclusions: Dietary fiber intake has different protective effects on different cancers.

    Carrots

    There are more than 300 search results on carrot and cancer on PubMed

    Several studies have found that eating more carrots is linked to a decreased risk of certain types of cancer.

    For example, an analysis looked at the results of five studies and concluded that eating carrots may reduce the risk of stomach cancer by up to 26% (Source).

    Another study found that a higher intake of carrots was associated with 18% lower odds of developing prostate cancer (Source).

    One study analyzed the diets of 1,266 participants with and without lung cancer. It found that current smokers who did not eat carrots were three times as likely to develop lung cancer, compared to those who ate carrots more than once per week (Source).

    Try incorporating carrots into your diet as a healthy snack or delicious side dish just a few times per week to increase your intake and potentially reduce your risk of cancer.

    Still, remember that these studies show an association between carrot consumption and cancer, but don’t account for other factors that may play a role.

    Carrot is also listed in the EWG's Clean 15. These 15 items had the lowest amounts of pesticide residues, according to EWG’s analysis of the most recent USDA data.

    Nuts

    Research has found that eating nuts may be linked to a lower risk of certain types of cancer. There are more than 1,000 search results on nuts and cancer on PubMed

    For instance, a study looked at the diets of 19,386 people and found that eating a greater amount of nuts was associated with a decreased risk of dying from cancer (Br J Nutr. 2015).

    Another 2015 study followed 30,708 participants for up to 30 years and found that eating nuts regularly was associated with a decreased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and endometrial cancers (Source).

    Another meta-analysis of 14 cohort studies (2015), found that dietary legume consumption reduces risk of colorectal cancer. Legumes are a diverse group of foods, including soybeans, peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, and other podded plants, which are widely cultivated and consumed.

    Other studies have found that specific types of nuts may be linked to a lower cancer risk. For example, Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which may help protect against lung cancer in those with a low selenium status (Source).

    These results suggest that adding a serving of nuts to your diet each day may reduce your risk of developing cancer in the future.

    Still, more studies in humans are needed to determine whether nuts are responsible for this association, or whether other factors are involved.

    Caution: Whilst we don't want to avoid nuts unnecessarily, limiting nuts may be helpful if you are experiencing recurrent cold sore (Herpes type 1) infections. While nuts are usually a great way to add to a healthy diet in order to pack in some extra protein, fibre and minerals, they are also a high source of arginine. In particular, peanuts, walnuts and hazelnuts are the worst offenders so steer clear of these. This includes peanut butter and other nut butters, unfortunately. (source)

    Berries

    Berries are high in anthocyanins, plant pigments that have antioxidant properties and may be associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

    There are more than 17,000 search results on berries and cancer on PubMed. Do take note that most of the research studies are pre-clinical, lab, animal and non-human studies.

    In one human study, 25 people with colorectal cancer were treated with bilberry extract for seven days, which was found to reduce the growth of cancer cells by 7% (Source).

    Another small study gave freeze-dried black raspberries to patients with oral cancer and showed that it decreased levels of certain markers associated with cancer progression (Source).

    One animal study found that giving rats freeze-dried black raspberries reduced esophageal tumor incidence by up to 54% and decreased the number of tumors by up to 62% (Source).

    Similarly, another animal study showed that giving rats a berry extract was found to inhibit several biomarkers of cancer (Source).

    Based on these findings, including a serving or two of berries in your diet each day may help inhibit the development of cancer. Keep in mind that these are animal and observational studies looking at the effects of a concentrated dose of berry extract, and more human research is needed.

    That said, strawberries have remained in the No. 1 slot for several years in EWG's Dirty Dozen List 2023. Blueberries is one of the newcomers on the Dirty Dozen list for 2023.

    The Shopper’s Guide represents EWG’s analysis of the latest fruit and vegetable testing data from the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. The 2023 shopper’s guide includes data from 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables, revealing the presence of 251 different pesticides in total, including some that have already been banned due to their potential health effects.

    Soy

    A review of 14 studies (Plos One. 2020) found that tofu intake was associated with a 
    lower risk of breast cancer. Tofu (bean curd), is a popular food derived from soy in Asia.

    In another study, The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study (JAMA. 2009), a large, population-based cohort study of 5,042 female breast cancer survivors. Over an average follow-up of 3.9 years, soy food consumption was significantly associated with lower risk of death and breast cancer recurrence.

    A review of 35 studies (Plos One. 2014) found that soy intake could lower the risk of breast cancer for both pre- and post-menopausal women in Asian countries. However, for women in Western countries, pre- or post-menopausal, there is no evidence to suggest an association between intake of soy isoflavone and breast cancer.

    Dairy products, milk, calcium and wholegrains

    Best evidence: A 2021 umbrella review (Nature) of the literature concluded that consumption of dairy products, milk, calcium and wholegrains are inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk.

    Coffee and Cancer

    Best evidence: A 2021 umbrella review (Nature) of the literature concluded that coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of liver cancer and skin basal cell carcinoma.

    In addition, based on data from another large observational study nested in a clinical trial, are in line with earlier studies showing a connection between regular coffee consumption and improved outcomes in patients with non-metastatic colorectal cancer. The study is being published by JAMA Oncology (2020).

    According to a 2019 systematic review of four studies, coffee has a weak to strong inverse association with liver cancer. The researchers concluded that the Japanese population was likely to experience a decrease in the risk of primary liver cancer due to coffee consumption.

    Beans

    Beans are high in fiber, which some studies have found may help protect against colorectal cancer (SourceSourceSource).

    One study followed 1,905 people with a history of colorectal tumors, and found that those who consumed more cooked, dried beans tended to have a decreased risk of tumor recurrence (Source).

    According to these results, eating a few servings of beans each week may increase your fiber intake and help lower the risk of developing cancer.


    Smoking has been linked to many types of cancer, including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, voice box, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Even being around secondhand smoke might increase the risk of lung cancer.

    But it's not only smoking that's harmful. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the mouth, throat and pancreas.

    Staying away from tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is an important way to help prevent cancer. For help quitting tobacco, ask a health care provider about stop-smoking products and other ways of quitting.

    Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

    Being at a healthy weight might lower the risk of some types of cancer. These include cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.

    Physical activity counts too. Besides helping control weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.

    Doing any amount of physical activity benefits health. But for the most benefit, strive for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of hard aerobic activity.

    You can combine moderate and hard activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. More is better.

    Studies Confirm Importance of Strength Training in Moderation

    Best evidence: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 16 studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2022.

    Muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10% to 17% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), total cancer incidence, Type 2 diabetes and all-cause mortality. As in O’Keefe’s study, this review found a J-shaped association, with a maximum risk reduction of all-cause mortality, CVD and cancer (10 % to 20%) being observed at a dose of 30 to 60 minutes per week.

    After 60 minutes, the benefits of strength training started to diminish, and above 140 minutes per week, it was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality. 

    Another 2022 systematic review published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) found that:

    “Compared with undertaking no resistance training, undertaking any amount of resistance training reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 15% ... cardiovascular disease mortality by 19% ... and cancer mortality by 14% ...

    A dose-response meta-analysis of 4 studies suggested a nonlinear relationship between resistance training and the risk of all-cause mortality. A maximum risk reduction of 27% was observed at around 60 minutes per week of resistance training ... Mortality risk reductions diminished at higher volumes.”

    Fasting and Cancer

    Fasting may help reduce obesity-associated cancers. “There’s a lot of obesity-associated cancers,” said Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist and fasting expert. “There’s about 13 cancers that are well accepted that they are associated with obesity; fasting might help decrease that.”

    Fasting can potentially starve cancer cells. When fasting, the body uses fats and produces ketones for energy. Cancer cells rely heavily on glucose, making them less efficient at using ketones.

    Additionally, fasting reduces insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels are linked to an increased risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

    Intermittent fasting may protect against liver inflammation and even liver cancer, a 2024 study has found. The study, conducted at the German Cancer Research Center and the University of Tübingen and published in the journal Cell Metabolism, aimed to understand more about how intermittent fasting can affect the liver. The researchers found that intermittent fasting can halt the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a precursor to chronic liver inflammation and liver cancer. 

    Although the study is promising, the researchers acknowledge that because the study was conducted on mice, there is no way to know definitively whether the intermittent fasting regimen would produce the same results in humans.

    It is important to remember that intermittent fasting is not the best dietary choice for everyone and can even have dangerous consequences for people with certain health conditions.
     

    Alcohol

    Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Alcohol increases the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver. Drinking more increases the risk.

    Best evidence: A 2021 umbrella review (Nature) of the literature concluded that Alcohol consumption is positively associated with risk of postmenopausal breast, colorectal, esophageal, head & neck and liver cancer.

    Gut Microbes and Probiotics

    Not only have gut bacteria been shown to influence gene expression (RR), turning some genes on and others off, research (R) published in 2018 found gut microbes actually control antitumor immune responses in your liver, and that antibiotics can alter the composition of immune cells in your liver, triggering tumor growth.

    Harvard Medical School researchers have identified the specific population of gut microbes that modulates both localized and systemic immune response to ward off viral invaders.

    Certain gut bacteria also promote inflammation, which is an underlying factor in virtually all cancers, whereas other bacteria quell it. The presence of certain gut bacteria has even been shown to boost the patient's response to anticancer drugs. (Nature 2018)

    One way in which gut bacteria improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment is by activating your immune system and allowing it to function more efficiently. Researchers have actually found that when these specific microbes are absent, certain anticancer drugs may not work at all.

    Avoid risky behaviors

    Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:

    • Practice safe sex. Limit the number of sexual partners and use a condom. The greater the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, the greater the chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection, such as HIV or HPV.

      People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.

    • Don't share needles. Injecting drugs with shared needles can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you're concerned about drug misuse or addiction, seek professional help.

    Protect yourself from the sun

    Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:

    • Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest.
    • Stay in the shade. When outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help too.
    • Cover your skin. Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Wear a head cover and sunglasses. Wear bright or dark colors. They reflect more of the sun's harmful rays than do pastels or bleached cotton.
    • Don't skimp on sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Apply a lot of sunscreen. Apply again every two hours, or more often after swimming or sweating.
    • Don't use tanning beds or sunlamps. These can do as much harm as sunlight.

    Sleep, Stress and Desk Job

    Sleep

    Many studies, especially in the last 10 years, have evaluated the association between different types of cancer and different types of sleep disorders (Mogavero 2021). The majority of sleep disorders in patients with cancer are associated with activation of the inflammatory response (Mogavero 2021). 

    Circadian rhythm disorders seem to represent a risk factor for gastrointestinal and breast cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, thyroid and prostate cancer (albeit with dubious evidence), lymphomas and chronic myeloid leukemia, not for ovarian cancer. Insomnia represents a risk factor for a wide range of tumors, especially breast, nose, trachea, liver and oral cavity. (Mogavero 2021)

    In a 2022 study, the detrimental associations of poor sleep with all-cause and cause-specific mortality risks are exacerbated by low PA (physical activity), suggesting likely synergistic effects. The study supports the need to target both behaviours in research and clinical practice.

    2023 study indicated that insomnia and nap during the day may be risk factors of PLC (primary liver cancer) and adequate night sleep might keep us away from PLC (primary liver cancer).

    2021 study, concluded that both unfavorable sleep duration and evening chronotype were associated with increased lung cancer incidence, especially for those with low to moderate genetic risk. These results indicate that sleep behaviors as modifiable risk factors may have potential implications for lung cancer risk.

    Another similar study, the authors concluded that they have found robust evidence for effect of sleeplessness on lung cancer risk.

    Stress

    High stress might be one of the most overlooked factors, especially concerning the long-term impact of being exposed to a stressful job environment.

    However, it’s important to understand the role of stress on cancer progression. Scientists know that psychological stress can affect the immune system, the body’s defense against infection and disease (including cancer).

    The body responds to stress by releasing stress hormones, such as epinephrine (also called adrenaline) and cortisol (also called hydrocortisone). The body produces these stress hormones to help a person react to a situation with more speed and strength. Stress hormones increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. Small amounts of stress are believed to be beneficial, but chronic (persisting or progressing over a long period of time) high levels of stress are thought to be harmful.

    Stress that is chronic can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, and various other illnesses. Stress also can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, smoking, or abusing drugs or alcohol, that may affect cancer risk.

    Some studies have indicated an indirect relationship between stress and certain types of virus-related growths. Evidence from both animal and human studies suggests that chronic stress weakens a person’s immune system, which in turn may affect the incidence of virus-associated cancers, such as Kaposi sarcoma and some lymphomas.

    It is difficult to separate stress from other physical or emotional factors when examining cancer risk. For example, certain behaviors, such as smoking and using alcohol, and biological factors, such as growing older, becoming overweight, and having a family history of cancer, are common risk factors for cancer.

    Studies have shown that stress might promote cancer indirectly by weakening the immune system's anti-tumor defense or by encouraging new tumor-feeding blood vessels to form. But a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that stress hormones, such as adrenaline, can directly support tumor growth and spread.

    Desk Job

    One of the most important aspects of lifestyle is your job. If you're among the 86% of American workers who work at a desk all day, your job may have an adverse effect on your health. 

    Studies have found that those who sat for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risk posed by obesity and smoking.

    2009 study found that people who had increased sitting times had higher rates of cancer and overall mortality, even when they got some daily exercise.

    The American Cancer Society has also found a link between long periods of inactivity and cancer. The group says that people who spend "prolonged leisure time sitting" — defined as more than 6 hours per day — have a 19% higher rate of death compared to people who sit an average of 3 hours per day. That number includes all causes of death, but it doesn't necessarily mean that sitting directly causes cancer or other diseases, since sick people are also likely to move around less.

    Get regular medical care and Health Screening

    Doing regular self-exams and having screenings for cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast — can raise the chances of finding cancer early. That's when treatment is most likely to succeed. Ask a health care provider about the best cancer screening schedule for you.


    Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.

    Get medical imaging studies only when you need them. (Harvard Health)

    Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers. But don't worry about electromagnetic radiation from high-voltage power lines or radiofrequency radiation from microwaves and cell phones. They do not cause cancer.

    Avoid exposure to environmental toxins and infections that contribute to cancer

    Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). (Harvard Health)

    Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles. (Harvard Health)

    Caution and Concern

    It's important to emphasize caution when it comes to these natural products. It wasn't long ago that, after finding that people who ate a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene had a lower risk of lung cancer, researchers set out to study the potential effect of supplements of beta-carotene on risk. Unlike the reduced risk seen with dietary beta-carotene, however, beta-carotene in supplement form was associated with an increased risk of developing the disease.

    Key Takeaways

    When interpreting scientific studies, let’s remember that cell culture results are trumped by mouse results. Mouse results are trumped by human results. Case studies & small human trial results are trumped by double-blind placebo controlled ones.

    The best way to prevent cancer is by maintaining good health, like from eating a nutritious whole-food diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and a healthy lifestyle. 

    While supplements can be beneficial, they should complement, not replace, these fundamental preventive strategies. No amount of supplements can replace an unhealthy lifestyle i.e. sedentary, heavy smoker, alcoholic, a very stressful lifestyle, overweight and obesity.

    While there’s no silver bullet supplement, there are some anti-cancer supplements on the market that may help you keep the disease at bay or stop it from getting worse. Whether you’re living with cancer, a survivor, or just concerned for your health, talk to your doctor to determine the best treatment for you. 

    This article is part of the diet and cancer series. Other diet and cancer related articles:
    For more information on treatment, causes and prevention, screening, and the latest research, check out this comprehensive resource page (by cancer type) from National Cancer Institute: https://www.cancer.gov/types.

    Comments

    1. Dr Mercola would debate the evil of sunshine. Eatting a good whole food and meat diet with morning or evening sun will give the natural vt D you need. covid-19 problem solved.

      ReplyDelete

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