Phone 0800 HEALTH

Nutrient use for specific cancers

Much evidence suggests that the most important defence against toxic chemicals, which produce oxygen free radicals and peroxides - the agents that contribute to the initiation of cancer - are anti-oxidants.

Nutrient use for specific cancers...

Nutrient Effective in the following cancer
Vitamin A Lung cancer due to smoking
Vitamin C Breast, stomach, bladder, melanoma, endometrial, pancreatic
Alpha-carotene Neuroblastoma, liver, lung, skin
Lycopene Prostate, breast, stomach
Selenium Adenocarcinoma, skin, colon, liver, breast
Choline Liver, colon
Folic Acid Uterine, cervical dysplasia. Repairs DNA mutations in most cancers
Gallium Nitrate Leukemia, solid tumours
Iodine Breast dysplasia
Melatonin Breast
Pyridoxine Hepatoma, melanoma, cervical carcinoma, bladder, breast
Vitamin D Osteosarcoma, melanoma, colon, breast
Co Enzyme Q10 Breast
Calcium Colon
Pectin Colon
Genistein Breast
Butyric Acid Colon
Quercetin, GLA, EPA Reduces metastasis
Vitamin A, B12 & Folate Reverses bronchial metaplasia
Folate, Vitamin C & Beta-carotene Reverses cervical dysplasia & oral leukoplakia


Dietary antioxidants and cancer protective nutrients are as follows:

Vitamin A

Reduces the incidence of buccal cancer in betel nut and tobacco chewers. Lung cancer due to inhalation of benzo-alpha-pyrene is reduced by Vitamin A. It modulates cell to cell interaction by being a catalyst in the synthesis of cell membrane glycoproteins. These glycoproteins act as communicator beacons between cells and are very important in maintaining contact inhibition between cells. Vitamin A also enhances immune competence.

Vitamin C, Ascorbic acid

Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant. It protects against nitrite and benzo-pyrene ingestion. It reduces abnormal rates of cell division in human breast cancer tissue exposed to tobacco smoke.

It increases the intracellular ground substance resistance to hydrolysis by hyaluronidase, the enzyme which potentiates the spread or dissemination of cancer cells. It also stimulates the immune system, which could well modify the rate of tumour growth and regression. Vitamin C administration inhibits DNA, RNA and protein synthesis in neoplastic blood cells and squamous cells. It also decreases bladder cancer risk.

Vitamin E, Tocopherols

This nutrient protects the cell membrane from oxidative damage and particularly against chemical plant toxins such as quinones and hydrazides. Vitamin E levels are extremely low in the lungs of smokers.


Precursor of vitamin A and carotene. Quenches singlet oxygen and thus protects body fat and lipid membranes. Singlet oxygen is a very reactive form of oxygen which is believed to be mutagenic. Beta-carotene is effective in smokers and those who are photosensitive, eg due to chemical or drug exposure.

Alpha-carotene can inhibit the growth of neuroblastoma cells. It also substantially reduces the incidence of lung, liver and skin cancers. Lycopene, the red pigment carotenoid, is effective in reducing the risk of prostate, breast and stomach cancer.

Co Enzyme Q10 (300-400mg/day)

CoQ10 has been shown to reduce tumour growth, stimulate the immune system and improve cellular energetics. It appears to be effective in breast cancer. It normalises cancer cell energetics and thus converts a normal cell energy production, which normalises cellular function.

Flavonoids, Quercetin

Flavonoids are potent anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Some flavonoids, such as quercetin, have demonstrated modulation of microsome-mediated activation of aflatoxin B and other mutagens, thus reducing resultant DNA damage. Quercetin, rutin and kaempferol have demonstrated anti-promoter activity and due to their anti-inflammatory activity, they reduce the spread of cancer i.e. metastasis.


Present in many foods and protects the body from aflatoxin, oxidative and alkylating carcinogens. Glutathione may be increased by increasing the sulphur amino acid intake eg cysteine, methionine and vitamin B12.


Dietary selenium significantly inhibits the induction of skin, liver, colon and mammary tumours. Selenium is a cofactor to the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which is essential for destroying lipid hydroperoxide and endogenous hydrogen peroxides, thus reducing or preventing oxygen radical-induced fat rancidity. Sodium selenite is effective in colon cancer. Selenium deficiency is associated with adenocarcinoma of the bowel.

Uric acid

Uric acid is a strong anti-oxidant present in high concentrations in the blood of humans. The concentration of blood uric acid levels can be increased by dietary purines, eg offal, shell fish and peas. It is present in human saliva and thus may play a protective role in the defence against carcinogens in the mouth. Low blood uric acid levels may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

Other potential anti-carcinogenic nutrients...

Choline, Methionine, Vitamin B12 and Folic acid

These nutrients constitute the lipotropic factors involved in the transfer of one carbon units (methyl groups) and in the utilisation and metabolism of fats. Deficiency of these factors is associated with the increase in hepatic and colon cancer. Further more, cancer cell DNA is under- methylated, hence more proliferative. Increasing available methyl groups may restrict cancer expression. Choline deficiency in its own right initiates liver cancer.

Folic acid

Folic acid can reduce chromosomal damage by limiting the expression of a mutation. It has been reported that folic acid reduces uterine cervical dysplasia in women using the oral contraceptive. Folic acid should not be given to leukemia patients.

Gallium nitrate

Gallium nitrate is effective against leukemia and solid tumours. Gallium is a substitute for magnesium and thus diminishes the metabolic function of this mineral, by slowing down the cellular growth. It also binds DNA more strongly than magnesium.

Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

These 2 fatty acids can modulate the arachidonic acid cascade and hence reduce inflammation. It is known that, during the inflammation process, a whole range of chemical mediators and growth factors are synthesised and / or released. Some of these growth promoters are known to act on tumour or malignant cells, by helping to establish tumour vascular blood supply. Platelet activating factor (PAF) was found to be one of these promoters. Reducing or preventing inflammation, which may arise from surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy or from post-operative infection, will reduce the risk of stimulating early metastatic tumour growth at the primary or other sites. Ginkgo biloba and quercetin are potent PAF inhibitors.

GLA prevents or reverses chromosomal damage, inhibits cancer cells and activates macrophages.

Ultra Trace Elements

Germanium, gallium, silica and selenium deficiency increase the risk of cancer. These ultra trace elements influence the mechanism that controls genetic expression at the electronic or nuclear level.


The female hormone estrogen hastens the development of dysplasia when iodine is low in the diet.

Iron, Copper, Molybdenum

Deficiencies of any of these trace elements appears to increase the risk of cancer.


Melatonin is a powerful hydroxy radical scavenger and protects against DNA damage from the hydroxyl radical generating carcinogen, safrole. It is an oncostatic agent, which inhibits the growth of prostatic breast cancers. It is as powerful as Tamoxifen, as an anti-estrogenic agent. It also inhibits androgen sensitive tumours.


Many investigators have reported that during malignancy or cell proliferation, the cancer cell metabolises glucose anaerobically rather than aerobically. This results in an energy deficiency and improper use of energy substrates. Niacin has been shown to partly rectify this condition and thus reduce cancer proliferation, by normalising cancer cell energetics.

Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 deficiency may increase susceptibility to virus-induced tumour growth. B6 has a toxic effect on hepatome cells and inhibits the growth of B16 melanoma cells in culture. Survival time is increased in patients with cervical carcinoma, stage II endometrial carcinoma, stage II bladder cancer and breast cancer, when patients supplement with pyridoxine.


Although not recognised as a trace element, it is selectively taken up by cancer cells or cells with damaged cell membranes. Its therapeutic role in cancer is its ability to induce a rise in intracellular pH and reduce the transport of sugars into the cancer cell. This may result in death of the cancer cell.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a "skin derived endocrine messenger" of sunlight, which attunes the body to the changing environment. Vitamin D affects adrenal hormones, thyroid function, the reproductive system and immune system. Vitamin D has recently been shown to reduce estrogen sensitive breast metastases and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Low levels of dietary calcium and vitamin D increase the promoting action of high dietary fat intake.

Supplementation with Vitamin D and calcium lessen the increases in proliferation induced by a high fat diet. 1-25-(OH)2 - vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D3, is a secosteroid hormone with known differentiating activity in leukemic cells. Anti-proliferation activity of active vitamin D3 had been documented in osteosarcoma, melanoma, colon cancer and breast carcinoma cells.


Zinc is involved in over 80 different enzyme systems in the body and is particularly effective in promoting the strength of the immune system.

Information copied from H. Osiecki, The Physicians's Handbook of Clinical Nutrition.M

Print Page


The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

Want some easy to follow recommendations based on your current health and lifestyle habits?

You can discover a number of ideas to improve your health and minimise potential health problems in the future, by completing our free health assessment.  It only takes 5-10 minutes to answer some simple online questions and a private and confidential health report will automatically be produced for you.  Try it now. No one else sees the results!

Here are some other parts of our web site that may be helpful.



Free shipping

All supplement orders over NZ$50 are delivered freight free NZ wide.
A charge of $3.50 will apply to rural delivery.


Related products

Related information


Home | Previous Page | Back to top

Choose a health topic

30 Day Money Back Guarantee
high potency filsh oil
Oasis Sun Care Sunblock
natural health practitioners nz
100% new zealand owned
useful resources approved by natural therapy for all