• Daurice Cummings-Bealer

Cancer Prevention: Eat Your Veggies

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

As we all know the cancer treatments from traditional medicine such as chemotherapy and radiation can wreak havoc on our bodies and many times it can be deadly. Are there better ways to fight cancer more effectively?

I would never advise anyone how to manage their illness no matter how large or small of a diagnosis they received. However, new research has suggested that there are other options out there that can be just as helpful.

These options are not to be used with or without other methods that are totally up to the patient. However, if I were the patient, I would want to know every available option I have in order to live a longer, more enjoyable life with my loved ones.

The journal “Cancer” published a study where UCLA researchers showed that radiation makes breast cancer more malignant. While they did find that radiation kills nearly half of the tumor cells treated, they also found that radiation transforms other cells into “induced breast cancer stem cells.” Cancer stem cells make up less than five percent of a tumor yet they can regenerate the original tumor. These new stem cells are up to thirty times more likely to form tumors compared to the cancer cells that didn’t get radiation. Cancer stem cells can also move through blood vessels spreading cancer to other locations.

Unfortunately, chemo works in the same manner. Chemo only kills the less harmful cancer cells. The cells left behind are the more lethal cancer stem cells that are resistant to traditional treatments.

South Dakota State University researchers found that there is a compound found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower that may be able to target those resistant cancer stem cells. It may even aid in preventing the recurrence and the spread of some cancers.

This compound is phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). When researchers added this compound to a Petri dish with human cervical cancer stem cells nearly seventy-five percent of these stem cells died within a twenty-four-hour period.

You can find PEITC in cruciferous vegetables. Studies have shown that it works strong as an anti-inflammatory and that it has chemo-preventive activity against a range of other cancers as well. Cancers such as colon, prostate, breast, cervical, ovarian, and pancreatic.

These same researchers were able to see how the PEITC compound slowed down the formation of cervical cancer stem cells in a dose-dependent manner. PEITC was able to significantly reduce the reproduction of both the cervical cancer cells and the stem cells. Amazingly, PEITC was comparable to the chemo drug Salinomycin but without the toxic side effects. In fact, the effects of the PEITC was undoubtedly better in negating cervical cancer stem cell generation than the toxic chemo drug Paclitaxel.

The researchers came to the conclusion that “it is becoming increasingly evident that cancer treatment that fails to eliminate Cancer stem cells allows the relapse of the tumor” and that “importantly, PEITC is anti-proliferative in both (cervical) cancer cells and (cervical cancer stem cells), suggesting that it may contribute to the eradication of cancer more efficiently than compounds targeting either cancer stem cells or regular cancer cells alone.”

The good news is that you don’t need to wait for a new drug to reach the market to take advantage of the compound PEITC. The levels of PEITC that the researchers used in their study can be achieved by eating a diet filled with many cruciferous veggies. They were particular in recommending watercress.

You should know that before this study from South Dakota State University, the British Journal of Nutrition and Biochemical Pharmacology published research showing that PEITC from watercress may suppress breast cancer cell development. They reported that a small group of breast cancer survivors ate a bowl of watercress and then had their blood tested within the next twenty-four-hour period. They were able to find significant levels of PEITC in the blood following the watercress meal. Other studies show that eating watercress and broccoli decreases the risk of breast cancer. Broccoli has also been shown to kill the stem cells that make cancer immortal.

Here are some common cruciferous veggies that you can find in a supermarket near you:

Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabagas, and watercress.

These vegetables have also been found to improve survival rates in ovarian cancer patients as well. They also contain another cancer-protective compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane improves the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens and other toxins.

As mentioned in previous episodes, here are a few more foods that target cancer stem cells:

Curcumin which is found in turmeric can target brain cancer stem cells and when combined with piperine found in black pepper, it aids in preventing breast cancer stem cells from regenerating themselves. Besides that, adding black pepper to turmeric helps your body absorb the curcumin more efficiently.

EGCG, found in green tea, stops prostate cancer stem cells from renewing themselves and by combining quercetin, which is found in apples and onions, stops cancer stem cells from traveling and invading into other tissues.

So just like your mama told you, eating all of your veggies is important for healthy growth.

For more information on this topic as well as many others check out the Anything & Everything w/Daurice Podcast at https://yopistudio.podbean.com/.

For more information on today’s topic check the references below.


Printz, C., "Radiation treatment generates therapy-resistant cancer stem cells from less aggressive breast cancer cells." Cancer 2012; 118: 3225.

Dan Wang, Bijaya Upadhyaya, Yi Liu, David Knudsen, Moul Dey. "Phenethyl isothiocyanate upregulates death receptors 4 and 5 and inhibits proliferation in human cancer stem-like cells." BMC Cancer, 2014; 14 (1): 591 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2407-14-591

Dolecek, Therese A. et al., "Prediagnosis Food Patterns Are Associated with Length of Survival from Epithelial Ovarian Cancer." Journal of the American Dietetic Association , Volume 110 , Issue 3 , 369 - 382

Dunne Fong et al "Curcumin inhibits the side population (SP) phenotype of the rat C6 glioma cell line: towards targeting of cancer stem cells with phytochemicals." Cancer Lett. 2010 1;293(1):65-72.

Madhuri Kakarala et al "Targeting breast stem cells with the cancer preventive compounds curcumin and piperine." Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Aug ;122(3):777-85.

Su-Ni Tang, et al "The dietary bioflavonoid quercetin synergizes with epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG) to inhibit prostate cancer stem cell characteristics, invasion, migration and epithelial-mesenchymal transition." J Mol Signal. 2010 ;5:14.


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