9 Essential Nutrients You Need to Eat to Fight Cancer

Don’t let disease control your life–take back your health today.

By Lindsey Duncan, CN, ND

Cancer treatment and prevention does not adhere to the “take-one-pill-in-the-evening-and-call-me-in-the-morning” philosophy; it must be a multi-pronged approach that includes diet, exercise, proper living, supplementation, and aggressive preventative care. Included are nine “big guns” of aggressive preventative care. While supplements don’t cure cancer, they can give your body the building blocks it needs to do its own job to prevent cancer. In some cases, supplements can even help turn the tables in the right direction for someone who is already fighting cancer!

1. Dark, Leafy Greens

The most overlooked cancer-fighting agent isn’t in a pill or box from the vitamin aisle, but in the organic produce section of the grocery store. Fresh vegetables have been extensively researched for their cancer-fighting abilities, and yet, most Americans struggle with consuming just one serving daily, let alone the recommended minimum of five servings per day.

Of all vegetables, I strongly recommend dark, leafy green varieties because of the high amount of healing properties they contain. For example, a flavonoid compound called luteolin, which is abundant in several green vegetables such as broccoli, celery, cabbage, spinach, and green peppers, has been shown to exhibit cancer-fighting effects but may also support healthy inflammatory processes. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and cabbage, have been shown to reduce the formation of tumors, inhibit cancer cell growth in laboratory and animal studies, and show promise in inhibiting cancer cell growth and invasion.

For disease prevention, at least half of your meals should consist of dark, green, leafy vegetables. Consume a variety of cooked, lightly steamed, raw, and juiced greens along with fruits (especially berries) and other vegetables to ensure your body can obtain the variety of antioxidants and therapeutic compounds that these foods offer!

2. Black Raspberry

This is one of my top picks not only for cancer, but also for overall health. This amazing superfood has incredible new research behind it. Not to be confused with the blackberry, black raspberries are concentrated fruits with antioxidant levels that far surpass other berries. Its dark, rich color showcases the extremely high levels of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Arguably, the black raspberry tops the list of berries with the deepest, darkest color and the greatest anthocyanin content. This berry is an exciting discovery in the field of cancer research because the anthocyanins are thought to target one of the most deadly and one of the most aggressive forms of cancer: esophageal cancer.

In one study conducted at Ohio State University, a dietary supplement of pure, freeze-dried black raspberries was shown to inhibit cancer that was chemically induced in the esophagus of rats by up to 60 percent, and of the colon up to 80 percent. The effect of the strong inhibition of the tumor cells in esophageal cancer studies are believed to be due to the cellular uptake and retention of the anthocyanins in the freeze-dried black raspberries. Early research has also shown promising results for treating cervical cancer, and I truly believe that the list of affected cancers will continue to grow! Black raspberries are also believed to be beneficial for supporting the cardiovascular system and healthy eyesight.

Although the current data exists from animal research, clinical trials are underway in patients at high risk for esophagus and colon cancer. Since the freeze-dried black raspberry supplement serves as a fantastic source of anthocyanin, this fruit may offers preventative hope for many types of cancer.

3. IP6

Also known as inositol hexaphosphate, IP6 is a fairly new discovery that should be on everyone’s radar screen. It is a type of polyphosphorylated carbohydrate found in cereal grains, beans, brown rice, nuts, and other high-fiber foods. Many researchers believe that some of the health benefits may be due to the antioxidant, immune-enhancing, and cardiovascular-supporting activities of IP-6. Laboratory and animal research has shown IP-6 to possess significant protective and growth-regulating effects on various unhealthy cells and tissues, including those of the colon and prostate.

IP6 is available as a dietary supplement and is known for strengthening the immune system, preventing kidney stone formation, and lowering serum cholesterol levels in addition to showing promise as a cancer-fighting supplement.

4. Mangosteen Fruit

An exotic superfruit grown in the Eastern tropics, mangosteen is considered the “Queen of Fruits” for good reason. This fruit has been used traditionally for centuries as a remedy for a variety of health ailments from inflammatory conditions and arthritis to bacterial infections.

However, much of the research on this fruit has been dedicated to xanthones, an antioxidant found in the outer rind of mangosteen fruit, and their affect on cancer cells. Xanthones (such as alpha-Mangostin) are toxic to human cancer cells; they contribute to their destruction, suppress tumor development, and enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. The xanthones found in mangosteen possess an ability to block the conversion of androgens (masculizing hormones) to estrogens (feminizing hormones), which likely have positive effects of estrogen-sensitive cancers.

Although peeled and canned mangosteen can be found in Asian grocery stores, the whole mangosteen fruit is rarely found in the US. The outer rind is the most desired portion of the fruit from a therapeutic perspective—that is where the powerful xanthones are found. The best way to get the benefits of the whole mangosteen fruit, including the xanthones, is to purchase a 100-percent, pure mangosteen juice from your local health food store. Make sure there are no additives (such as sugar) in order to obtain the greatest therapeutic results.

5. Selenium

Even though it is only required in small amounts, this essential trace mineral is a cancer-fighting powerhouse. Selenium is bonded to methionine, an essential sulfur amino acid, and it functions to increase the activity of the glutathione peroxidase antioxidant system, particularly in liver, heart, and kidney tissues. Research shows that selenium may play important roles in reducing free-radical damage to DNA that increases the risk of cancer, but it also enhances immunity and decreases inflammation. It is believed that selenium may suppress tumor growth, and a lack of the trace mineral may contribute to the development of cancer. Many of the clinical and laboratory studies focus on selenium’s role in prostate, colon, and lung cancers. This antioxidant appears to be a fantastic supplement for cancer prevention.

Selenium is abundant in organ meats, Brazil nuts, seafood, and wheat germ. It can also be taken as a supplement. For the nutritional prevention of cancer, 200 mcg per day of selenium is an adequate daily intake. However, most multivitamins only contain 50 to 70 mcgs.

6. Açai Berry

Honored for their potent antioxidants and essential fatty acids, native Brazilians have relied on açai berries as an important source of nutrients. Unfortunately, the recent açai craze that hit North America over the past four years has brought both positive and negative attention to this potent and powerful superfood. Most companies exaggerate the benefits of açai, so it’s very important to only purchase quality products from reputable brands. When in doubt, ask someone at your local health food store.

It is believed that the natural compounds in açai have contributed to the beautiful appearance, hair, and skin of Brazilians, which has inspired açai’s nickname, the “beauty berry.” However, research has determined that the benefits of the berry aren’t merely skin deep!

Although açai hasn’t been researched as extensively as other exotic superfruits, it is believed that it offers powerful immune-enhancing benefits. In vitro laboratory experiments have shown that when the polyphenols from the açai berry battled with isolated human leukemia cells, the açai polyphenols won. The açai polyphenols were found to inhibit the growth of and destroy cancer cells, making açai another potential candidate for healing.

Açai berries are extremely perishable and can’t make the trip overseas unless flash frozen. The berries have a large pit, or seed, which makes them difficult to eat. Subsequently, consuming the berries in the form of a pure juice can provide all the nutritional goodness the berry has to offer closest to its natural state. Look for a 100-percent pure açai supplement at your local health food store.

7. Noni Fruit

Grown in volcanic soil, noni fruit contains a wealth of minerals and compounds that are revered by island natives throughout the South Pacific. The noni fruit contains iridoids and anthraquinones, which may play helpful roles in digestion, elimination, and detoxification. Furthermore, noni may also provide synergistic effects when combined with other herbs and medications having similar properties. The enhanced effects may also be true when noni is combined with certain chemotherapeutic drugs, increasing noni’s anti-tumor potential.

The mechanisms of action behind noni’s possible powerful cancer-fighting properties may lie in the unique compounds in the polysaccharide-rich juice of the fruit. Damnacanthal is an anthraquinone that may be able to inhibit enzymes that cause the growth of cancer cells while turning off the signals that lead to cancer cell growth and division.

The current research on the clinical applications for polysaccharide-rich noni juice seems encouraging as a potential supplement in the treatment of cancer, especially lung cancer. Noni is a very bitter fruit with astringent properties that is best taken alone and undiluted.

Look for the ingredients list on the label and be sure to obtain 100-percent pure noni with absolutely nothing else added in order to get the most therapeutic value in the supplement.

8. Goji Berry

Used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese medicine, the potential to fight cancer is just one out of dozens of positive effects that may be derived from goji berries. Known as the “happy” berry, the polysaccharides in goji have been studied for their supportive effects in vision and eye health, as well as yielding blood sugar and cardiovascular benefits. The mechanism of action in the berries is the polysaccharides, known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (or LBPs). These have been found to inhibit growth and contribute to the death of human liver tumor cells. The LBPs may also play a role in increasing the amount of signaling proteins that are involved in boosting immunity against tumors. Because the LBPs in goji may promote healthy immune responses, researchers believe that goji offers therapeutic potential for those with cancer.

Goji berries can be found in their dried form in many health food stores, but for the most therapeutic effect, a juice that is full of effective polysaccharides will make an impact that many can feel with the first or second dose. The ancient Chinese used to slow cook the juice of fresh goji berries to extract more of the polysaccharides (much like cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene). A 100-percent pure goji juice, that is darker in color due to the slow-cooking method, can be found at your local health food store.

9. Vitamin D

Besides aiding in the absorption of calcium to protect strong teeth and bones, vitamin D also facilitates the absorption of calcium in the intestines and stimulates the absorption of minerals such as phosphate and magnesium. It also behaves much like a hormone, since the active form of vitamin D can affect the function of certain genes. What isn’t commonly known, though, is that low intake of this fat-soluble vitamin is associated with an increased risk of cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers. Most of the studies have been population-based case control studies looking at the association between vitamin D levels and the incidence of breast cancer. Although correlation shouldn’t be confused with causation, the strong association between low vitamin D intake and breast cancer is compelling.

Vitamin D can be obtained from diet (egg yolk, fish oil, or plant sources), or through the skin—which produces it by converting the ultraviolet energy of the sun. However, as more people avoid sun exposure, the supplementation of vitamin D becomes necessary to ensure that the body receives an adequate supply. The most absorbable form is vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. Once in the body, vitamin D turns into 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (the form that is measured in the blood to assess vitamin D status), and is converted to calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D3. You can look for vitamin D3 sold as soft-gels in health food stores. Those not exposed to sunshine on a daily basis may need as much as 5,000 IU (international units) daily. Be careful with vitamin D because it is a fat-soluble vitamin (instead of water-soluble) and may store inside your liver if you take too much.

Overall, we should consider that cancer is not really a disease but rather a symptom of something else. Cancer cells become cancerous not because they are the disease, but because they are normal cells reacting to the causative factors. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to cancer prevention, these supplements, especially when combined with diet and exercise, can help your body do what it was designed to do, which is fight off cancer and other illnesses. When it comes to achieving optimum health and feeling your best, you’re only as good as the tools in your toolbox, and my toolbox is stocked with these incredibly powerful cancer-preventing supplements and foods!

Dr. Lindsey Duncan’s Supplement Recommendations

Dr. Lindsey Duncan recommends a few supplements to help the body stave off cancer and generally stay in good health.


If you can’t eat green, leafy vegetables every day, I recommend reaching for a supplement. My favorite is GenEssentials Greens, which you can find online or in health food stores. This supplement offers up to five servings of leafy green veggies in just one scoop! I like to mix it with a little açai berry juice and water in the morning. Not only will it deliver all of the cancer-prevention benefits of green veggies, but you’ll also notice an increase in energy. It’s one of my favorite supplements currently on the market.


I recommend that you get the supplement from Pure Health, only because I have visited the farms where this product is harvested and I can assure the purity is unmatched!

Black Raspberry

There are only a handful of freeze-dried capsule and powder supplements on the market; I definitely recommend Pure Health, a 100-percent pure freeze-dried capsule with no additives. I take two every day and recommend that all of my clients do the same. When purchasing supplements, always look for the least amount of unnecessary “other ingredients.”


My favorite product is Genesis Today’s Acai100. It might be hard to believe, but Wal-Mart has a good açai juice in its refrigerated beverage section. This juice contains a whopping 16,000 milligrams of açai per serving and is also made by Genesis Today.

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