Supplements that may help to fight cancer

Garlic may not only be of use in fighting cancer, but also in helping to fight off infections. — Photos: Filepic

When you visit your local health or grocery store, you may notice how many different kinds of vitamins and supplements are available.

Many are touted as anti-cancer, but with such a wide variety, it can be difficult to determine what’s good.

There are many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your health.

However, there is a huge market of unregulated supplements that may not benefit your health at all.

It is even possible for certain supplements to negatively impact cancer treatments as some supplements can negate the effects of medications or medical treatments.

It’s important to realise that no dietary supplement can completely prevent, treat or cure cancer.

Certain supplements, however, can potentially help to lower the risk of cancer, support the body during cancer treatment and/or assist in recovery from cancer.

But it’s important to note that there is limited or inconsistent scientific evidence to support this for many of these supplements.

If you’re thinking about supplementing your diet with anti-cancer vitamins, always talk to your doctor first, particularly a doctor knowledgeable in nutritional medicine.

> Ginger

Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat digestive issues, as well as the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Drinking ginger tea or eating candied ginger throughout the day may help relieve these side effects.

There is a variety of ginger teas available on the market.

Ginger extract is also available as a herbal supplement online.

These extracts may, however, be too concentrated for some people.

Ginger may also interact with blood-thinners, so people taking these medications should consult their doctors before adding ginger to their diet.

> Ginseng

Panax ginseng may reduce the risk of several types of cancer, according to animal and human studies conducted over the past 20 years.

Both the red and white varieties of ginseng contain 34 constituents called ginsenosides, which Korean researchers say fight cancer growth.

In one Korean study conducted in 1980, red ginseng extract inhibited lung tumour growth in rats.

Ginseng was also found to help reduce cancer-related fatigue, especially in patients undergoing active treatment, in a study conducted by researchers at the US National Cancer Institute in 2013.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which may kill cancer cells and slow tumour growth. — TNSTurmeric contains curcumin, which may kill cancer cells and slow tumour growth. — TNS

> Green tea

EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate, the active ingredient in green tea, may combat cancer.

A 2018 review suggests that EGCG and green tea extracts may reduce cancer onset, recurrence and secondary growths after cancer treatment.

Green tea can be taken as a dietary supplement or by drinking one or more cups each day.

According to the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), green tea can interact with nadolol, which is a medication for treating high blood pressure and heart problems.

People currently taking this medication should speak to their doctor before using green tea products.

> Antioxidants

A diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent cancer and other diseases caused by oxidative stress.

They counteract free radicals in the body, which may help protect cells from damage and oxidative stress.

However, studies have been inconclusive.

People who smoke or patients who are undergoing cancer treatment should talk to the doctor before taking antioxidant supplements.

> Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, which may kill cancer cells and slow tumour growth.

To experience the many benefits of turmeric, add some to your next meal or take a supplement containing curcumin.

The benefits of curcumin may include:

  • Blocking cancer cells from multiplying.
  • Billing colon, breast, prostate, and melanoma cancer cells.
  • Slowing tumour growth.

Since turmeric is fat-soluble and not water-soluble, cooking-grade turmeric powder is not absorbed optimally into the body.

If you want to reap the benefits of turmeric, make sure you include a supplement-grade product in your diet.

> Garlic

If you’re looking for a little extra protection for your body, garlic is a great choice.Certain ginger extracts sold as herbal supplements may be too concentrated for some people.Certain ginger extracts sold as herbal supplements may be too concentrated for some people.

It is recommended that you consume one clove of garlic per day, or 300 to 1,000 milligrammes of garlic extract per day in order to reap these benefits.

Protective effects may include:

  • Antibacterial properties.
  • Blocking and halting the activation of cancer-causing substances.
  • Enhanced DNA repair.
  • A reduction in cancer cells spreading.
> Omega-3 fatty acids

According to research, omega-3 fatty acids may lower cancer risk in some cases.

Many foods naturally contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, and plant oils, such as those from flaxseed, soybean, and canola nuts and seeds.

Dietary supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids are widely available in health stores and pharmacies in a variety of different forms:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Fish oil
  • Krill oil
  • Algal oil, which comes from algae and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

For people aged 14 years and up, the US Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a daily intake of 1.1-1.6 grammes of omega-3 fatty acids.

It is recommended that a person consult their doctor before taking omega-3 supplements as some medications can interact with them.

Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and a functional medicine practitioner. For further information, email The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only, and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Nutrition , cancer


Next In Health

Vaccines: Giving humans an advantage against disease-causing microorganisms
Can't straighten your fingers? It could be Dupuytren's contracture
Keeping our bladder in good health
This treatment could potentially halt multiple sclerosis from advancing
We need to tackle the issue of social isolation; here are some suggestions
Want to travel to space, gentlemen? You might return with erectile dysfunction
We can still end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030
Healthcare workers who own pets have this advantage
Breast implants help save man in need of lung transplant
Outwardly fine, but internally anxious

Others Also Read