Top 5 Anti Cancer Supplements & Vitamins with Clinical Proof

January 13, 2018 by in category cancer research with 0 and 0
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Cancer is a stubborn disease and it is important to tackle it with everything you have got. Your will power, exercise, drugs all need to unite and fight it. But it i perhaps unwise to leave a crucial aspect – diet. Apart from these scientific procedures, certain foods or supplements are known to prevent cancer as well as help in treatment them directly or indirectly.

The supplements may aid directly by attacking and stopping growth of cancerous cells or indirectly by reducing side effects caused due to standard treatments mentioned above. These supplements and their potential benefits in various types of cancers have been discussed here.

Vitamin D

vitamin D

Vitamin D supplementation is also believed to help prevent cancer. The role of Vitamin in cancer prevention was studied by some scientists. The research studies conducted by them and the results of these studies are explained below.

Whether or not it can alleviate cancer in patients already suffering from Cancer is not clear, but considering its cancer prevention properties, its probably a good idea for cancer patients to keep the Vitamin D levels up.

Vitamin D associated with Breast Cancer Prevention

Garland and a team of scientists went through all the research studies done till 2007 which looked at the relationship between Vitamin D intake and prevention of breast cancer.

After a detailed analysis of these research studies, they found that an intake of 2000 IU of Vitamin D coupled with moderate exposure to sunlight as and when possible was capable of raising the serum levels of Vitamin D and also lead to a 50% lower risk of breast cancer.

According to these observations, the risk of breast cancer can be cut down to half by regular Vitamin D consumption of 2000 IU per day.

Vitamin D supplementation can reduce Colorectal cancer risk

Several studies have been conducted to know the efficiency of Vitamin D in reducing risk of colorectal cancer among women. A scientist called Gorham reviewed the results of all these studies in 2007 and observed that while a low dose of Vitamin D was not successful in preventing colorectal cancer among women, a higher dose may be able to do this.

Five such studies which explored the role of Vitamin D supplementation in prevention of colorectal cancer in women were selected and their results were analyzed.

Result highlights:

  • Daily intake of 1000-2000 IU Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of colorectal cancer among women.
  • The risk of colorectal cancer in these women was slashed to half if their Vitamin D status was good (i.e. serum 25-hydroxy Vitamin D > 33 ng/ml).
  • This protective effect was not seen in women who had a lower Vitamin D content in their blood (serum 25-hydroxy Vitamin D< 12 ng/ml).

High dose Vitamin D supplementation (1000-2000 IU per day) successfully lowers the chances of getting colorectal cancer in women.

Breast Cancer associated with Vitamin D deficiency

Two years later, in 2009, another research study was conducted in America by Crew and group where they looked at the association of breast cancer with Vitamin D stores in the body. The level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood tells us about the Vitamin D stores of our body.

This was a case-control study. Case-control study is a type of observational study of persons with the disease (known as ‘cases’) and a group of persons without the disease (known as ‘controls’). Interview and blood samples were taken from 1026 breast cancer patients which were the ‘cases’ in this study. Similar data was collected from 1075 healthy individuals which were treated as ‘controls’.

The results of this trial clearly showed an inverse relation between plasma levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and breast cancer risk. Compared with women who had Vitamin D deficiency, those with adequate levels of Vitamin D had a lower risk of getting breast cancer. This risk was even lower in postmenopausal women who had adequate stores of Vitamin D in their body. This means Vitamin D deficiency puts women at a higher risk of breast cancer.

Good Vitamin D status in women could help them prevent breast cancer, especially those women who have already gone through menopause.


Curcumin has anti-cancer properties

Curcumin is a substance present in the spice Turmeric and is a type of ginger. Turmeric is a well-known spice, grown extensively in South East Asia and is known for its use in Asian cuisine. The yellow color of turmeric is due to the presence of Curcumin in it. It is widely considered to have anti-cancer properties. Lets have a look at some studies on its effect on cancer.

Curcumin aids in prevention of colorectal neoplasia

Caroll and his co-researchers did a scientific research study in 2011 to see the effect of giving Curcumin supplementation on the risk of getting colon cancer among people who are at risk.

People included in this study:

  • Were at least 50 years old.
  • Currently smoked and smoked in the past also.
  • Had a Rectal ACF (Aberrant Crypt Foci) level of 8 or more.

Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are clusters of abnormal tube-like glands in the lining of the colon and rectum. They are one of the earliest changes seen in the colon that may lead to cancer.

There were certain criteria for excluding people from the study. They were:

  • Those who were taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like acetylsalicylic acid for more than 10 days every month were not included in the study. Those who had discontinued these medicines since a month or more were allowed to be part of the study.
  • Those who had suffered from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer and those who had undergone pelvic irradiation less than 5 years before the start of this study were also excluded from the study.

This was done because the people who had these diseases / were taking the medicines mentioned above would be unable to give accurate results as their disease or medication would interfere with the supplementation.

curcumin reduces Aberrant crypt foci

Although both doses of Curcumin (2 gram and 4 gram per day for 30 days) were well tolerated i.e. there were no side effects in any of the participants, true benefit of the supplement was seen when higher dose (4 gram per day) was given.

There was a huge reduction (40%) in the ACF number in the study participants who were given 4 gram Curcumin per day for 30 days.

Clearly, giving these participants 4 gram per day Curcumin supplements for a period of 30 days effectively brought down their ACF levels, reducing risk of colon cancer.

Administration of curcumin induced anti-cancer properties in Colorectal patients

Another study was done in the same year (2011) by Zy and team to find out if Curcumin supplementation was able to stop the growth of cancer cells in patients suffering from colorectal cancer.

The study results showed improved (increased) body weight among the participants which indicates better nutritional and health status. Also, the speed with which tumor cells were destroyed or killed in the body increased.

Curcumin supplementation therapy definitely helps in improving prognosis among patients of colorectal cancer by killing tumor cells faster and improving their general health and well-being.


Punicalagins are a type of acid found in Pomegranates. They possess phytochemicals (natural chemicals present in various foods which make us healthier and stronger to fight against diseases) and are believed to be potent anti-oxidants which stop cell damage and thus help in protecting our body against various diseases like diabetes, heart problem, cancer, kidney problems, liver disorders etc.

How pomegranate juice affects men with rising prostate-specific antigen following radiation or surgery for prostate cancer.

Pantuck and co-workers conducted a study in 2006 where they observed what effect regular consumption of pomegranate juice had on men who had been treated surgically or with radiation therapy for theory prostate cancer.

All the men in the study were given 8 ounces of Pomegranate juice daily. This was continued till there was any worsening of the disease in the men.

For knowing whether the pomegranate juice intake was having any positive effects, the scientists measured something called PSA doubling time before and after giving pomegranate juice.

PSA is enzyme released in the prostate of men and the level of PSA becomes very high in men who are suffering from prostate cancer. So, in order to see if the juice is helping these men, the scientists calculated how much it took for each participant’s PSA level to double i.e. become twice as high.

As the graph shows, there was a significant increase in the PSA doubling time i.e. PSA enzyme levels doubled very slowly in the men after being given the pomegranate juice.

Before supplementation (Pomegranate Juice) was given to them, the average time it took for PSA levels to double (become twice as high) was 15 months. However, after being supplemented with Pomegranate juice, the average time taken for doubling of PA became 54 months.

PSA doubling time - before and after pomegranate juice therapy

When pre-treatment and post-treatment patient serum was compared, there was a marked improvement in apoptosis, in-vitro cell proliferation and oxidative stress.

Before supplementation (Pomegranate Juice) was given to them, the average time it took for PSA levels to double (become twice as high) was 15 months. However, after being supplemented with Pomegranate juice, the average time taken for doubling of PA became 54 months.

This indicates that the disease progression (worsening) was much slower after being given Pomegranate juice which suggests that Punicalagins effectively slowed down the disease.

Clinical study evaluating the effect of pomegranate extract in men with rising PSA following therapy for recurrent localized Prostate Cancer.

More recently, a study was done in 2013 which aimed to find out the effect of giving two doses of Pomegranate extract in men who had recurrent prostate cancer (i.e. who prostate cancer kept coming back even after being treated).

This study was done by a group of researchers led by Paller. Since Punicalagins have been scientifically proven to increase the PSA doubling time in men who have been treated for prostate cancer by surgery or radiation therapy, in this study, the scientists wanted to see if it was also helpful in men with recurrent prostate cancer.
For this, 104 patients were enrolled and put into two treatment groups.

  • Group 1 was given 2 doses 1 gram of Pomegranate extract.
  • Group 2 was given 2 doses of 3 gram Pomegranate extract.

anti cancer effects of pomegranate in prostate cancer patients

The graph shows the improvement in PSA Doubling Time of both groups. In both cases, the PSA Doubling Time increased.

Additionally, the PSA Doubling Time increased to more than 100% of what it was at the start in many men (43%). At the same time, PSA Doubling Time also decrease in a few men (13%). Diarrhea was the only side effect which appeared in some of the patients.

Since there were few mild side effects and the Pomegranate extract helped a majority of the men in slowing their disease, this supplement can be considered as a worthy treatment option for men who have recurrent prostate cancer.

More Anti Cancer effects of pomegranate fruit extracts

Recent research suggests that pomegranate extracts have the potential to selectively inhibit the spread and growth of prostate, breast, lung and colon cancer cells in culture. In preclinical animal studies performed on rats, oral consumption of pomegranate juice caused a marked inhibition of the tumors of skin, prostate, lung, and colon.

Pomegranate fruit extract inhibits prosurvival pathways in human A549 lung carcinoma cells and tumor growth in athymic nude mice. This suggests that PFE can prove to be a useful chemotherapeutic agent against human lung cancer.

Oral consumption of a human achievable dose of pomegranate fruit extract (PFE) is said to reduce the progression and growth of lung tumors while also inhibiting tumor signaling pathways in studies involving mice.

In one of such studies lung tumors were induced in mice by treating them with N-nitroso-tris-chloroethylurea (NTCU). They were then divided into 2 groups with 1 group receiving pomegranate fruit extract (PFE). The group that was given the PFE showed 65.9% tumor reduction.

In the lab, pomegranate extracts and genistein used in combination have been seen to induce apoptosis (tumor cell death) and cause inhibition of cell proliferation in human MCF-7 cells breast cancer cells.

Various studies utilizing differing different models in separate laboratories have categorically demonstrated a marked anti-angiogenic (anti tumor and blood vessel growth inhibition) potential of pomegranate fractions.

Significant anti-tumor activity against human prostate cancer was demonstrated by Pomegranate-derived materials(oil, fermented juice polyphenols, pericarp polyphenols) .

It was noticed that 70 microg/mL of pomegranate polyphenols caused 50% inhibition of the LNCaP prostate cancer cell proliferation, whereas hPrEC non-cancerous prostate epithelial cells were much less affected.

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is perhaps more famous for its sexual health enhancing properties, but traditional Asian medicine claims that Panax Ginseng possesses anti-cancer properties, and is regularly cited as a helpful ingredient in preventing breast and colon cancer among humans.

Anti-Cancer effects of Panax ginseng

In a study conducted in the Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Ginseng intakers exhibited much decreased risk for cancer when compared with patients who did not take it.

Cancer odds were 0.57 for white Ginseng extract intakers and for fresh ginseng extract intakers the odds were 0.37. The odds were 0.30 for those who consumed Ginseng in powdered form.

Interestingly, no decreasing risk was noted for people who consumed fresh Ginseng slice or Ginseng juice or white Ginseng tea

The study also reported that Ginseng decreased cancer risks in all types of cancers except cancer of the thyroid gland, female breast, urinary bladder and uterine cervix. Also, smokers were deemed to benefit a lot from the preventive effects of Ginseng as it seemed to suggest a much decreased risk of the cancers of oral cavity, lip, liver, lung and pharynx.

Antistress activities, immune system modulation and anti-hyperglycemic properties of Ginseng have been acknowledged by researchers and it has often been used in relieving tiredness in cancer patients.

More recently, a newly identified ginsenoside from Panax notoginseng, is known to exert anti-tumor activities against a variety of cancer cells in both in vitro and in vivo. It was found to reduce the expression of cancer markers and researchers have noted its clear potential to be an effective anti-metastatic and therapeutic agent.

Trametes Versicolor

Trametes Versicolor, also known as Coriolus Versicolor or Polyporous Versicolor is a commonly found mushroom found all over the world. It looks like the colorful tail of a wild turkey and is hence also called ‘turkey tail’.

Trametes versicolor

Medicinal mushrooms and their extracts have been globally since a long time to fight cancer and improve immunity. This mushroom species (Trametes Versicolor) is one of the traditionally used anti-cancer agents. The American Cancer Society states that there is some evidence which suggests that certain parts of the mushroom may exhibit anti-cancer properties.

There is a conclusive research trial done by Torkelson and her team of scientists on the effect of Trametes Versicolor on immune response among breast cancer patients. The immune response is how your body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful.

Immune system is particularly important for people suffering from cancer because cancer can weaken a person’s immune system making him/her more likely to develop infections. Also, the treatment given for treating cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation etc. may also cause the immune system to function less efficiently.

A strong immune system is a good fighter against cancer. For these reasons, it is vital for cancer patients to have a good strong immune system which improves treatment outcome.

Keeping this in mind, the scientists in this study decided to check if, according to the claims, Trametes Versicolor extract actually helped in strengthening the immune system of cancer patients.

A total of 9 women who had recently completed their radiation therapy were enrolled in the study. They were divided into 3 groups of 3 women each. All three groups were given different doses of Trametes Versicolor preparation.

Responses of each group in terms of side effects as well as effect on immune system were measured before and after supplementation. By doing this, the scientists wanted to find out which dose gave maximum benefit with minimum side effects.

  • Group 1 was given 3 gm per day for 6 weeks
  • Group 2 was given 6 gm per day for 6 weeks
  • Group 3 was given 9 gm per day for 6 weeks

The immune response was measure once before and then at the end of radiation. It was also measured 3 times during the 6 week supplementation period. The last measurement of immune response was 3 weeks after the completion of supplementation period.

Lymphocytes and natural killer cells, which are two types of white cells responsible for giving immunity to the body, increased in the women who took 6 gm per day and 9 gm per day supplementation. The side effects of this supplement were also studied.