Cancer remains one of the trickiest medical conditions to treat, with no clear solution or completely effective treatment. Because it strikes so many people, it has also been the subject of countless studies. In this huge body of research, some foods have been repeatedly identified as being effective at killing cancer stem cells.
This is critical because the fact that chemotherapy doesn’t eradicate cancer stem cells is believed to be the reason that people experience recurrences and metastasis. These cells, sometimes called “mother cells”, only make up a small portion of the cells in tumors but continuously self-renew and resist chemotherapy. They can also split off to create new colonies of tumors, which is why destroying them is the key to effectively treating cancer in the long term. Drugs don’t specifically target these cells, but researchers have found lots of natural substances that do address them. Here’s a look at some of the best cancer cell killers nature has to offer.
Green tea has long been used in Chinese medicine for a host of ailments, but only recently have researchers uncovered its incredible potential for treating cancer. Researchers from Baylor University Medical Center have found that green tea’s active ingredient, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), kills cancer stem cells and by extension can prevent people from resisting chemotherapy. While EGCG is also present in black tea, green tea contains much more of it. Their research was focused on treating colorectal cancer, but they believe other types of cancer can also benefit from green tea.
Pre-clinical research shows that a compound in ginger has a 10,000-times greater efficacythan the popular chemotherapy drug Taxol when it comes to killing breast cancer stem cells. The component, which is known as 6-Shogaol, is produced when ginger root is cooked or dried, and its cancer-killing effects can take place at concentrations that aren’t toxic to healthy cells, unlike conventional cancer treatment.
Curcumin, a component in the ancient Indian spice turmeric, can selectively target cancer stem cells without hurting the normal stem cells needed for tissue regeneration, according to studies. It has been shown to target cancer stem cells in breast cancer, head and neck cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer and brain cancer.
The compounds found in grapes have been shown to kill colon cancer stem cells in studies from Penn State University. Resveratrol, which is found in the skins and seeds of grapes, was found to kill the stem cells in petri dishes as well as live mice, and researchers believe the finding could lead to treatments that can prevent colon cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer today. When resveratrol and grape seed extract were taken together, their effects were particularly potent, yet they didn’t harm healthy cells.
Other foods that kill cancer stem cells
While these are some of the most potent anti-cancer foods available, there are plenty of other foods that can kill cancer stem cells. GreenMedInfo recently compiled a list of 25such foods. In addition to the foods we’ve just mentioned, you’ll also find entries like blueberries, carrots, coffee, grapefruit, mint, cherries, onions, black pepper and thyme.
The abundance of foods that can have a big impact on cancer remind us just how effectively and safely nature can help us deal with the biggest health issues of our time. Many doctors aren’t well-versed on this topic, and others have financial motivations to keep pushing the latest expensive and often dangerous drugs on patients, so you owe it to yourself to look at the available research and find out just how much the right foods can do for your health.
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