This article explores 12 foods that kill cancer cells, can help reduce your risk of developing cancer, or improve your prognosis if you already have it.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and its incidence continues to rise. While conventional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can help in managing cancer, they often come with severe side effects.

The Burden of Cancer

According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death, with a 2020 report showing that it caused 10 million deaths during that year. This is estimated to be 1 in every six deaths.

The most common types in 2020 included:

  • Breast cancer – 2.26 million cases
  • Lung cancer – 2.21 million cases
  • Colorectal cancer – 1.93 million cases
  • Prostate cancer – 1.41 million cases
  • Skin cancer – 1.20 million cases
  • Stomach cancer – 1.09 million cases

Among these, the leading type in 2020 included lung cancer, followed by colorectal, liver, stomach, and finally, breast cancer.

In the next two decades, the cancer burden is expected to increase by 60%, further straining health systems and communities. 

With these facts, it’s worth looking into what you can do to prevent this condition or increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Foods That Kill Cancer Cells:

Fortunately, research has shown certain foods that kill cancer cells, thus preventing their growth and spread.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that has been widely recognized as one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.

It contains high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for maintaining good health, including fighting cancer.

broccoli florets on cutting board

Broccoli contains a powerful compound called sulforaphane, which has been found to be effective in preventing and fighting cancer.

Sulforaphane works by activating certain enzymes in the body that help to neutralize carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and prevent them from causing damage to cells.

According to various epidemiological studies, consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli was associated with a reduced risk of developing lung cancer.

Another study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that sulforaphane could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, broccoli is also rich in fiber, which can help to reduce the risk of colon cancer. It also contains vitamin C, which can boost immunity and protect against disease.

2. Cherries

Cherries have been known to be one of the most delicious fruits out there. But did you know that cherries are also a powerful cancer-fighting food?

overflowing jar of cherries on wooden background

That’s right, this small and juicy fruit packs a punch when it comes to preventing and fighting cancer. Here are some of the ways in which cherries fight cancer: 

  • High in antioxidants: Cherries are rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, quercetin, catechins, and vitamin C. These antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals that can damage our cells and cause cancer. 
  • Inhibit tumor growth: Studies have shown that compounds found in cherries can inhibit the growth of tumors. These compounds can also promote apoptosis or programmed cell death, which is an important process to prevent the spread of cancer cells. 
  • Reduce inflammation: Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer. Cherries contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as flavonoids and anthocyanins that can reduce inflammation throughout the body. 
  • Boost the immune system: The immune system plays an important role in protecting us against cancer. Cherries contain nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E that boost our immune system function and help protect against disease. 
  • Protect against DNA damage: DNA damage is one of the main causes of cancer development. Cherries contain natural chemicals like polyphenols which have been shown to protect DNA from damage caused by oxidative stress.

3. Apples

Apples contain a variety of compounds, such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, and triterpenoids, that possess anti-cancer properties.

These compounds work together to inhibit cancer cell growth and promote apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. 

pile of red apples

According to a 2010 case study, eating one apple every day decreased the risk of colorectal cancer by more than 50%.

Furthermore, apples are rich in fiber which promotes bowel regularity and prevents constipation. Regular bowel movements also reduce exposure to carcinogens in your digestive system which reduces the risk for colorectal cancer.

4. Flaxseeds

Studies have found that consuming flaxseeds regularly can help prevent and fight cancer due to their high concentration of lignans.

Lignans are plant compounds that have powerful antioxidant properties and can help regulate hormone levels in the body.

One study found that consuming 32 grams of flaxseeds daily reduced the risk of breast cancer while a different study by the University of Toronto found that tamoxifen, a cancer medication in combination with flaxseed reduced breast tumor size by more than 53% compared to tamoxifen alone.

spoon of ground flaxseed with whole flaxseeds scattered on a wooden surface

Another recent lab study, also noted that using flaxseed oil inhibited the development of malignant breast cancer cells.

The oil also contains lignans which take up the role of a weak estrogen and bind estrogen receptors on cells in the endometrial tissues. The result is protection from cervical cancer, leukemia, and melanoma. 

Flaxseed consumption has also been linked to a lower risk of other cancers, such as prostate and colon cancer.

In addition to lignans, flaxseeds contain other beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect against various diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. 

Furthermore, some studies suggest that flaxseed oil may effectively treat ovarian tumors by inhibiting tumor growth through cell cycle regulation.

5. Carrots

Carrots are not only delicious, but they also have a wide range of health benefits, including fighting cancer.

They contain high levels of antioxidants, which help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

freshly picked carrots in garden dirt

In addition, carrots contain a compound called falcarinol, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Studies have found that falcarinol can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the breast and colon.

Furthermore, carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including lung cancer and bladder cancer.

To get the most benefit from carrots’ anti-cancer properties, it is important to eat them raw or lightly cooked. Overcooking can destroy some of the nutrients and antioxidants in carrots.

6. Walnuts

Walnuts are packed with nutrients and compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. They contain antioxidants and polyphenols, which help to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

According to research conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research, all nuts contain cancer-preventing properties.

Shelled walnuts with a nutcracker on a wooden background.

However, the highest potency goes to walnuts due to their high ellagic acid, a dietary phenol that has been shown to bind to cancer-causing compounds, thus promoting their elimination

Besides, ellagic acid is metabolized into urolithins in the body, which inhibits cancer angiogenesis, the process by which cancer forms new blood vessels which promote its spread.

While more research is needed to fully understand how walnuts fight against cancer, it is clear that incorporating them into your diet can provide numerous health benefits.

7. Red Cabbage

This vibrant-colored veggie contains anthocyanins, which give it its distinctive hue and also act as powerful antioxidants.

Studies have found that red cabbage may help prevent cancer by stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells. Red cabbage has been shown to particularly inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer.

Raw shredded purple cabbage on a cutting board

Another study showed that red cabbage extract could slow down or even stop the growth of breast cancer cells in mice.

In addition to its anti-cancer properties, red cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K, fiber, and other important nutrients for overall health. It’s also low in calories, making it a great addition to any healthy diet.

To incorporate more red cabbage into your diet, try adding it to salads or stir-fries, roasting it with other veggies, or using it as a wrap for sandwiches or tacos. 

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables worldwide. They are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients that offer various health benefits.

For instance, they contain lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their bright red color.

Lycopene has been extensively studied for its potential anticancer properties. According to research, lycopene can help prevent several types of cancers, including prostate cancer, lung cancer, and stomach cancer.

Cutting red tomatoes composition background as knife and tomato bunch on the wooden cutting board

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men worldwide. However, studies have shown that regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products reduces the risk of prostate cancer by up to 35%.

Evidence also shows that consuming tomatoes may reduce your risk of breast cancer compared to those with lower intakes.

 Moreover, research done in 2018 found that people who consumed more tomatoes and ketchup had reduced stomach cancer risks. 

9. Garlic

Garlic, a herb commonly used in cooking to add flavor and aroma, has been found to have cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that regular consumption of garlic can help prevent the development of cancer cells.

One of the most significant ways garlic fights cancer is by boosting the immune system. Garlic contains compounds like allicin, which stimulate the production of white blood cells that fight infections and diseases. These immune-boosting properties help prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

garlic bulb and cloves on a wooden surface

Garlic also contains antioxidants that protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to environmental factors like pollution and radiation. These molecules can cause cell damage, that may lead to cancer.

The antioxidants present in garlic neutralize these free radicals, reducing their harmful effects on your body.

Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties also play an important role in preventing cancer growth since chronic inflammation has been linked to many types of cancers.

In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, garlic has other advantages too – it helps reduce high blood pressure levels, lowers cholesterol levels, boosts heart health, strengthens bones, improves digestion, and enhances brain function, among others.

To reap all these benefits, you need to consume enough daily doses – about 2-3 cloves per day is recommended for adults. You can take it raw or cooked in dishes like soups or stews.

10. Grapefruit

According to 17 research studies, people who took more grapefruits had a 50% less chance of getting oral and pharyngeal cancers.

grapefruit section on a wooden cutting board with a knife

Besides the anti-cancer properties, the fruit also has a generous amount of Vitamin C, fiber, phytochemicals, flavonoids, and potent carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene.

11. Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a delicious and nutritious fruit that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties.

It has recently gained attention as a potential cancer-fighting food due to its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

split pomegranate close up

Studies have shown that pomegranate extract can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in various types of cancer, including breast, prostate, colon, lung, and skin cancers. These effects are thought to be due to the presence of polyphenols such as punicalagin.

Ellagic acid, an antioxidant found in pomegranates, has also been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

This means that it could potentially be used as a natural treatment for cancer without causing harm to healthy tissue.

In addition to its direct anti-cancer effects, pomegranate also enhances the body’s immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. This helps the body fight off infections and diseases more effectively.

12. Sea Vegetables

Seaweed and vegetables are a great source of plant-based protein. Some of the most potent ones include Kelp, Hijiki, Nori, Arame, Kombu, and Spirulina.

They are rich in vitamins, including iodine, carotenes, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, and vitamins B, C, D, and E.

Kelp salad (detailed close-up shot) on wooden background

Being a host of antioxidants, these sea vegetables boost killer T-cells that protect you from cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Scientists have linked their consumption to the reduction of breast and uterine cancers. You can add them to your soups, rice, salads, and noodle dishes.

Related Articles:

  1. Breast Cancer and the Reasons Behind It’s Increasing Prevalence

  2. Breast Cancer and Smoking

  3. Top 11 Foods That Fight Breast Cancer

  4. Salt Water Flush Recipe for Colon Cleanses, Detox, and More

Final Thoughts

While there is no single food or diet that can guarantee the prevention or cure of cancer, incorporating foods that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties into our diets can certainly be beneficial.

These foods contain compounds that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, boost the immune system, and prevent cancer cell growth.

Additionally, a healthy and balanced diet overall is essential for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.

By making simple changes to your diet and including more cancer-fighting foods like those discussed above, you can take steps towards protecting yourself against this deadly disease.

If you enjoyed this post, “Foods That Kill Cancer Cells”, and would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.

Also, please leave a star rating! ;-)