Can food really kill cancer?

Credit: Morguefile
One MD suggests food can indeed kill cancer. According to author Dr. Raymond Francis, medicines in our kitchen cabinet can shrink cancer tumors, but food remedies are ignored by the medical community.

Dr. Francis doesn't say food should be a primary approach to killing cancer cells and tumors, but he does say chemotherapy isn't the “only effective way to treat cancer”.

Francis is the author of “Never Fear Cancer Again (Health Communications, Inc.).” In his book he covers natural alternatives to treat cancer that he claims can make us healthier and keep us away from bad choices.

“We can often help ourselves with substances we already have in our home,” says Francis in a press release. He adds, “Natural alternatives don’t get the attention they deserve because there is little profit in them for the major drug companies.”

Francis cites recent finding published in the journal “Nature” that showed chemotherapy destroys healthy cells and makes cancer grow because of a protein triggered in response to chemotherapeutic drugs. Damage to healthy cells “may directly contribute to enhanced tumor growth kinetics”, the study authors wrote.

Francis says inexpensive substances like ginger and turmeric have consistently been shown to shrink tumors and stop cancer from spreading.

According to Dr. Francis:

"These findings and my own are a huge slap in the face to mainstream medical organizations that have been pushing chemotherapy as the only option to cancer patients for years. Conventional medicine views cancer as a thing that needs to be killed or removed, but it is not a thing you can cut out, poison or burn, it is a biological process affecting the entire body.” Adding, “Once you understand the process, you can see how to turn it off -- just like turning off a lamp in your living room!"

But before you abandon your cancer treatment, it’s important to take a look at what researchers in the field of cancer are doing.

Francis has some positive points. Turmeric and ginger, for instance  both contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists are exploring natural substances that can boost the effect of chemotherapy, but they’re also trying to find ways to ensure those substances can be targeted to cancer cells.

One small study in the UK found turmeric kills liver cancer. Researchers for the study measured levels of curcumin in the liver, finding there wasn’t enough in patient cells to have any anti-cancer effect. The researchers suggested more studies.

The findings also showed curcumin in turmeric is absorbed in the gut, but not enough gets into the bloodstream. The study has led researchers to look at injectable forms of the substance.

Conversely, a 2007 study showed turmeric, combined with chemotherapy, killed more bowel cancer cells than chemotherapy alone in lab studies – not human studies.

The American Institute for Cancer Research is indeed studying ways to boost the cancer fighting power of turmeric, based on ‘hundreds’ of animal studies showing curcumin in the Indian spice might work for a variety of cancers.

One of the problems, according to Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is that scientists haven’t been able to find a dose that doesn't cause toxicity.

Memorial Sloan Kettering is also studying turmeric for treating cancer. Researchers have found they can boost the action of turmeric by adding piperine and other substances,

Turmeric could be beneficial for preventing cancer. Experts recommend not adding supplements or extra spice to your food without discussing first. Taking too much turmeric can have side effects that might include bleeding and digestive upset.

There’s no question that food and spices do have anti-cancer properties. There’s also no question that prevention is the best cure.

If you’re a patient with cancer looking for an alternative that can help you through chemotherapy, the best advice is to make sure you eat a healthful diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.

It’s important to avoid fatty foods and sugar, which have been shown to fuel the growth of cancer cells. If you’re overweight, work toward maintaining a normal BMI. Women are especially at high risk for breast cancer return from being overweight.


Ginger is an anti-inflammatory that has been shown in preliminary studies to slow cancer growth, according to the American Cancer Society. More studies are needed on humans however.

Food does have anti-cancer properties, but beware of claims that suggest you ditch conventional treatment. There doesn't seem to be enough evidence to show you can cure cancer with food alone. Contrary to claims, researchers are exploring alternative cancer therapies from the likes of turmeric and ginger, but perhaps not fast enough. Watch an interview with Dr. Francis here.