There are thousands of natural compounds that have been studied with demonstrable anti-cancer activity (check out over 600 on our cancer research database), but only a small subset of these have been proven to target and kill the cancer stem cells which lie at the root of cancer malignancy. Turmeric, for instance, we have featured a number of times for this “smart kill” property of targeting just the heart of cancerous tumors. More recently, ginger has been found in pre-clinical research to contain a compound up to 10,000 times more effective than the chemotherapy drug Taxol at killing breast cancer stem cells. Even common food like blueberry have special cancer killing properties, as discussed in a previous article: Research: Radiotherapy Causes Cancer, Blueberry Kills It.
A powerful study published in the journal Anticancer Research titled, “Natural Products That Target Cancer Stem Cells,” has made our job much easier of identifying this special category of cancer killers by reviewing the extant literature on the topic and listing the top 25 substances in this category. They are listed here below, along with some of their commonly recognizable dietary sources:
- Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) – Green Tea
- 6-Gingerol – Ginger
- β-Carotene – Carrot, Leafy Greens
- Baicalein – Chinese Skullcap
- Curcumin – Turmeric
- Cyclopamine – Corn Lilly [we do not suggest consuming this plant; this simply illustrates natural components exist that kill cancer stem cells]
- Delphinidin – Blueberry, raspberrry
- Flavonoids (Genistein) – Soy, red clover, coffee
- Gossypol – Cottonseed [we do not suggest consuming this plant; this simply illustrates natural components exist that kill cancer stem cells]
- Guggulsterone – Commiphora (myrrh tree)
- Isothiocyanates – Cruciferous vegetables
- Linalool – Mint
- Lycopene – Grapefruit, tomato
- Parthenolide – Feverfew
- Perylill alcohol – Mint, cherry, lavender
- Piperine – Black pepper
- Placycodon saponin – Playycodon grandifloruim
- Psoralidin – Psoralea corylilyfolia
- Quercetin – Capers, onion
- Resveratrol – Grapes, plums, berries
- Salinomycin – Streptomyces albus
- Silibinin – Milk Thistle
- Ursolic acid – Thyme, basil, oregano
- Vitamin D3 – Fish, egg yolk, beef, cod liver oil
- Withaferin A – Withania somnifera (ashwaganda)
Why are these substances so important?
The primary reason why conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy have failed to produce any significant improvements in cancer survival rates is because cancer stem cells are resistant to these interventions. In fact, chemotherapy and especially radiation are both capable of increasing the number and virulence of these cells in a tumor, while at the same time having the well-known side effect of further damaging the patient’s immune system.
While the cancer industry is still very much resistant to incorporating the implications of these findings into their standard of care (which is highly unethical), there are an increasing number of health practitioners that will not turn their back on the truth and are very much interested in alternative ways to prevent and treat cancer using food and/or plant-based approaches.
The new study addresses the relevance of cancer stem cells as follows:
“The cancer stem cell model suggests that tumor initiation is governed by a small subset of distinct cells with stem-like character termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs possess properties of self-renewal and intrinsic survival mechanisms that contribute to resistance of tumors to most chemotherapeutic drugs. The failure to eradicate CSCs during the course of therapy is postulated to be the driving force for tumor recurrence and metastasis. Recent studies have focused on understanding the unique phenotypic properties of CSCs from various tumor types, as well as the signaling pathways that underlie self-renewal and drug resistance.”
At present, the cancer industry has failed to produce a single drug that targets the cancer stem cell population of cells within a tumor, as confirmed by the study:
“If indeed the CSC response is a vital criterion for cancer treatment evaluation, there are still no drugs in clinical use that specifically target CSCs.”
The ability to selectively target cancer cells, and cancer stem cells in particular, while leaving intact the non-tumor cells in tissue is extremely important. We have created a section on our database that indexes research on these substances and now includes sixty seven of them here. We are also building a section that collates research cancer stem cells, a topic will no doubt become a central part of the future of cancer treatment, assuming the priority is to actually alleviate suffering and not just make money off of patients.