Anti-Cancer Superfoods: Do They Really Work?

Last updated: January 14, 2009
Blueberries on yellow #3

The short answer to this question is -- drum roll, please -- yes. They really do. While studies are ongoing, and in many cases experts still don't know exactly how these superfoods work, there's strong evidence that certain fruits and vegetables rich in plant-based nutrients can both prevent tumors from starting and halt their growth. Here, the top foods to work into the family diet if you'd like to cut cancer risk or help those with cancer recover. And who wouldn't?

  1. Blueberries, Acai Berries, and Grapes. The rich, dark colors of blueberries, Brazilian acai berries, and purple grapes come from phytochemicals that protect against numerous types of cancer. Most recently, researchers at the University of Florida found that the active ingredient in acai berries destroyed cancer cells when tested in cell cultures. And blueberries and muscadine grapes contain compounds that recent research shows cause cancer cells in the liver to self-destruct. In fact, the anti-cancer properties of these berries are so strong that researchers have developing concentrated supplements and other products such as purees and concentrates.
  2. Green Tea. One of the first plant-based chemicals to be studied for its anti-cancer properties, catechins -- the chemicals in green tea -- have been known for some time to prevent and reduce recurrence of breast and other cancers. With this particular chemical, experts even know why: a chemical known as EGCG inhibits breast tumor growth, a University of Mississippi study shows. Just two cups a day is enough to do the trick.
  3. Tomatoes. Harvard researcher Edward Giovannucci reviewed 72 different studies published by the National Cancer Institute, and concluded that lycopene, the active chemical in tomatoes, lowered the risk of many different cancers, particularly prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. Subsequently, the FDA conducted a review of its own and disagreed, refusing food companies' request to label tomato products with an anti-cancer health promotion message. However, many experts believe the FDA's process was flawed and that tomatoes will be vindicated by further studies. The good news: cooking tomatoes seems to enhance the effects of lycopene, qualifying tomato-based spaghetti sauce as a nutritional powerhouse. Bring on the pasta!
  4. Broccoli and Cabbage. British researchers made headlines last year with a study that showed that men with early signs of developing prostate cancer prevented tumor growth by eating broccoli four times a week. Other studies have shown anti-cancer benefits from eating cabbage, brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables.
  5. Garlic, Leeks and Onions. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies of people from Southern Europe who eat a diet high in garlic and onions show a direct relationship between high consumption of "allium" vegetables (all types of garlic, onions, and leeks) and reduced risk of many common cancers.

None of this is to say that an anti-cancer diet or nutritional supplements should be used in place of doctor-recommended treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. While there are members of's cancer community like Joel MacDonald who are using nutrition to battle their disease and have interesting stories to tell, the experts in this field strongly recommend that those who've already been diagnosed with cancer use anti-cancer nutrients to bolster traditional medical cancer treatment, not to replace it.

A great resource for those interested in learning more about making dietary changes to prevent cancer or cancer recurrence is a new book, AntiCancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, an MD, PhD, and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. At the age of 31, Servan-Schreiber, one of the founders of Doctors Without Borders, had a brain tumor surgically removed. After exploring the research on the connections between diet and cancer, Serban-Schreiber embarked on a series of lifestyle changes that he credits with preventing his brain cancer from recurring.

The list above is by no means comprehensive. Please comment and share your anti-cancer nutrition and diet ideas.

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13 Comments So Far. Add Your Wisdom.

about 1 month ago

Before reading this article I knew that only Green Tea and Tomatoes are treated as to anti-cancer <a href="">superfood</a> but now I known that there more superfood which are used to anti-cancer. I would like to give thanks the writer for this post.

almost 5 years ago

The antioxidant properties of the ACAI berry are the highest in orac score of any food. This can be found in the best tasting blend of 19 fruits in the easiest form for the body to absorb. The product you will feel the difference in your health and well being is called MONA VIE. It is a Premium product, not all products are the same....... This is a patented process that is used, there is nothing like it. It is available to buy wholesale at There are only about 5 products, but when they do it, Mona Vie does it right. It will cost you about 4.65 per day.....just so you know. The cost of good health these days, is priceless. Prevention is the key. Go to the website and check out the info there. There are products that help joint pain, and one that helps heart health(cholesterol and blood pressure) Give it a try today! As with anything, be consistent and committed, and it will work.

about 5 years ago

I have tried to access the link to get the 10 anti-cancer superfoods. My screen is only showing the first 5. How can I access the other 5. I greatly appreciate this article. Thanks for any and all assistance.

over 5 years ago

anti-cancer super foods?I think I missed my column some where.but I do also have untreated cancer and I do follow a strict superfood diet 'see my comment 14 days back.

over 5 years ago

No comments?well my wife had medical treatment she is in a wheelchair now,but her sister has arthiritis now,she is going to follow the treatment I followed.It was recommended by a doctor,if nobodies interested I wont put details but will say how my sister in law fare's with the treatment.

over 5 years ago

I had rhumatoid arthiritis 30 years ogo and rejected medical attention,changed my diet no uric acid in my diet and recovered a relative accepted all they could provide gold injections,steroids etc he died a cripple six years ago,he believed the treatment caused is disability.

over 5 years ago

I looked at my comment about Wendy Richards.I have watched the TV program of her last months of life,many times.She was a greatlady she died as she lived,a true brit,campared with herI am a wimp!None of my naby-pamby,dark chocolate and ginger for her.I admire her strength of character.

over 5 years ago

I had a thought,we are all different,so,green tea,may work for one person,cannabis hemp for another.Wendy Richards believed in chemotherapy as did Jade,I did not,anything that harms the immune system ,cannot be right.I find the bible very profound,I see it as symbolic not literal truth,I mean Noah's Ark is nonsense but symbolicly it has meaning,the garden of Eden the same thing I can pray to a symbolic God,it may only be talking to myself but my subconcious mind loves it,I get great comfort from it even praying for other people benefits me your are not helpless when you can pray.I know to some people I am talking rubbish,but there is so much rubbish,my little bit will not be noticed.

over 5 years ago

well I have had stomach cancer for six years,rather than have my stomach removed(only option)I went for the build up the immune system bluberries every day no red meat get to the gym relax no stress.develope a sense of humour,I call it the laughing cure,in fact everything I read that helps the immune system.ginger,dark chocolate I feel glad I have cancer!I have never felt so good, if I die tomorrow it was worth it, but it was hard work getting here.

Anonymous said over 5 years ago

RUN FROM THE CURE: A Film By Christian Laurette Watch The Movie Free Online At RUN FROM THE CURE: A Film By Christian Laurette Cannabis sativa hemp, the miracle plant, contains the cure for cancer and other ailments My name is Rick Simpson. I have been providing people with Hemp Oil medicines, at no cost, for about three years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. Throughout man's history hemp has always been known as the most medicinal plant in the world. Even with this knowledge, hemp has always been used as a political and religious football. I want this knowledge out there for everyone to learn! Watch the documentary Run From The Cure to understand more about using cannabis as a cure for cancer and other medical problems! The current restrictions against hemp were put in place and maintained, not because hemp is evil or harmful, but for big money to make more big money, while we suffer and die needlessly. Look at a proposal such as this; if we were allowed to grow hemp in our back yards and cure our own illnesses, what do you think the reaction of the pharmaceutical industry would be to such a plan? Many large pharmaceutical companies that still exist today sold hemp based medicines in the 1800's and early 1900's. They knew then what I have recently found out. Hemp oil if produced properly is a cure-all that the pharmaceutical industry can't patent. To learn more about my and hemp oil, visit and watch the documentary Run From The Cure.

over 5 years ago

While most of this information is not new, I find its presentation here somewhat alarming. Are you really saying that green tea twice a day is "all it takes" to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer??? This seems misleading at best and irresponsible if not downright dangerous at worst. I've had a healthy diet all my life -- lots of fresh fruits and veg, low meat intake, multivitamins, exercise, etc. etc. and at 49, I've been diagnosed with breast cancer. So it's not just the couch potatoes who get hit and a jugful of green tea is not a miracle cure. Please be careful about your claims!

over 5 years ago

With so much information on the plus points of fruit and vegetables,why is the American public so naive and continues their adiction to a carnivorous diet ?They see friends and family die of cancer and related diseases and yet they opt to eat highly carcinigenic non vegetarian food.

over 5 years ago

Great information. Thanks for writing this article. Have you heard of the health benefits of dark unprocessed natural chocolate. I have been studing it and am amazed to find the cocoa is the #1 antioxidant food. I now distribute a chocolate the is health promoting and looking for people interested in Health and wealth. Call this toll free number to find out more. 1-888-225-3008 code 1321

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