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Natural compounds that target cancer stem cells

Each year, more than 2000 new articles are published on the topic of CANCER STEM CELLS (CSCs). Why?

Because in every solid cancer type there is a small subset of CSCs that play a critical role when it comes to cancer aggressiveness, metastasis, recurrence, resistance to treatment and overall survival. It’s like a core of slow-growing, hard-to-kill cells that can withstand even the most effective treatment strategies. At present, no drugs are approved to specifically kill CSCs. Hence the mega research efforts.

Interestingly, in the last few decades scientists have identified about two dozen NATURAL AGENTS (from FOODS and HERBS and SPICES) that kill CSCs. Good reviews on this topic have been written by two oncologists from Heidelberg University, see for example

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells
The Big Five

In particular they talk about ‘THE BIG FIVE’ natural substances as a very promising therapeutic strategy for targeting CSCs, when combined with each other and/or in combination with conventional cancer treatments.

What are they?

CURCUMIN (from turmeric)

GENISTEIN and other ISOFLAVONES (mainly from soybeans, but also red clover, and coffee)

RESVERATROL (in dark grapes, plums, berries, and blue-coloured plant foods in general)

EGCG (in green tea)

SULFORAPHANE and isothiocyanates (in cruciferous veggies)

Curcumin, genistein, resveratrol, EGCG, sulforaphane
Natural compounds that target cancer stem cells

Studies to investigate the relationship between these 5 substances and cancer now appear in almost 20,000 scientific journal articles. Yet, the benefits of consuming certain foods in relation to a cancer diagnosis are rarely mentioned to cancer patients. Let alone making other evidence-based dietary changes to support their metabolic environment… but I digress.

The ‘big five’ can also be used in the form of supplements, in which case it is highly recommended to work with a nutritional professional specialised in integrative cancer support, to make sure that doses, timings, personal medical history, as well as potential drug interactions are handled as necessary and appropriate.

Get in touch if you would like to explore ways to integrate your diet and supporting plan with these powerful agents.

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