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List of Phytochemicals That Fight Cancer

Updated on May 3, 2011

Phyto means plant in Latin, thus phytochemicals are referred to chemical molecules that are produced by plants, and when ingested by humans they are not involved in the metabolism to yield or store energy, and they don't become a part of bones and muscles either ( we do not call starch, oils, or plant proteins, phytochemicals). They modulate the function of the recepient cell through modulating the structure of some of its naturally occuring molecules, this effect is determined by the lifespan of the modulated molecule.

The accumulated experience of humans about what we can use as foods offered us a wealth of easily manipulated sources of good health. Many phytochemicals in our foods are now recognized andĀ investigated for their health benefits. This hub contains only phytochemicals that were submitted to research to reveal their ability to fight cancer, through the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR).

Why Do Phytochemicals Have An Effect Against Cancer?

Since plants use solar energy to synthesize their own energy, and since they can be pollinated through air or insects, they do not have to move to seek food or mates like animals. This static nature of plants dictated its metabolic pathways to serve that purpose, thus:

- The metabolism should proceed independently. They should produce all the accessories need for a completed metabolism in an independent way ( They produce vitamins and coenzymes)

- The metabolism should primarily serve the purpose of production of carbohydrates, to supply the huge amounts of cellulose needed to build the structural elements of the plant ( Their protein structure is not as intricate as animals)

- The metabolism should produce chemicals of attractive colors and odors in their exposed parts, so that they can attract insects that will pollinate the plant

This scheme resulted in the following consequences:
- Vitamins in the plants have been essential for metabolism, yet they recently proved to have other endowed properties that are crucial for maintaining good health, i.e. Antioxidant effects

- Many colored or aromatic phytochemicals have pharmacologic or antioxidant effects

- Many phytochemicals that are not intended to be a part of general metabolism (carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism) have effects on enzymes as well as cytoskeleton proteins( protein scaffold of the cell)

Where Can Phytochemicals Act To Fight Cancer

The human body under the influence of cancer is set to be out of order.
While growth of of the normal tisuues is controlled by firm and complementary rules, development of cancer requires breaking these rules and directs the body activities to build more cancerous cells.
Cancer perform these changes through chromosomal changes and mutation and aberration of the DNA molecule, so that it can deceive the immune system of the host, invade other tissues in remote places, and induce formation of blood vessels.

While conventional methods to fight cancer is aimed at killing cancer cells through chemotherapy or radiotherapy which may kill normal cells, recent research revealed the following effects of phytochemicals:

- Antioxidants, Folic acid, and Polyphenols may counteract the effects of oxidants in causing structural damage to DNA and mutation of cancer-related genes

- Cruciferous vegetables, Phytic acid, and Saponins :
Plants of the family Cruciferae and phytic acid have been shown to inhibit the formation of endothelial cells which result in the formation of blood vessels, essentially induced by tumors. Phytic acid seems only to affect cancer cells and not normal cells. It improves the the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

- Garlic and Cruciferous vegetables :
Invasiveness of cancer proceeds in 2 seccessive steps, a cell is set free from the surrounding tissue which then migrates and invades another tissue. The 2 processes require that the filaments that strongly tie up a cell to the the surrounding tissue is loose enough to allow detachement of the cell from the first tissue, and its "inclusion" in the second tissue. Garlic and cruciferous vegetables may fix that probem through strengthening the filaments.

There might be so many other properties and effects of phytochemicals which warrants further research and further follow up.

List of Phytochemicals That Can Fight Cancer

Anthocyanins - Isoflavones - Phytic acid - Saponins - Ellagic acid - Fiber - Folate - Vitamin C - Carotenoids - Flavonoids - Glucosinolates - Crambenes - Luteolin - Protease inhibitor - Organosulfur compounds - Lycopene - Quercetin - Allicin - Allixin - Allyl sulfide - Omega 3 Fatty acid - Indole-3-Carbinol- Resveratrol

List of Plants That Can Fight Cancer

Cruciferous Vegetables
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Grapes and Grape Juice
Green Tea
Whole Grains


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    • profile image

      Fatima ridha 

      8 years ago

      There are some any facts for cancer patient.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      @Sandi, have you looked at Co-enzyme Q10 yet? CoQ10 is well documented in cancer alternative cancer research. Also, Jiaogulan is a very interesting tea, root, plant to look at if it comes to anti-cancer. Let me know what you think.

      Great post about phytochemicals and cancer! Nice!


      Cert. Nutrition Specilist

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi, I am looking for any lastest results for foods that fight Cancer for my book and website

      Can you help?

      Have a look at my Cookbook.

    • mesotheliomatips profile image


      11 years ago from California,USA

      Phytochemicals are naturally occurring biochemicals that plants developed in order to protect themselves from oxidation, insects, disease organisms and other hazards in their environment. These chemicals give plants their characteristic color, flavor, smell and texture. They are found in abundance in frequently consumed foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and seeds.

    • profile image

      Cancer Cure 

      12 years ago

      Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. John Hopkins Medical School has patented broccoli sprouts that are extra high in sulfurophane-- a phytochemical that fights cancer. It is sold in supermarkets.


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