Foods That Kill Cancer Stem Cells

There are thousands of compounds that have been studied and tested that have anti-cancer properties, but only a small sub-set has been proven to target and kill Cancer Stem Cells. A recent study published in the Anticancer Research, titled Natural Products That Target Cancer Stem Cells, makes it easier to identify these cancer stem cell killers.

Natural Substances That Target Stem Cells

I’ll give you the “list” here, then I’ll dive into some of these for a further understanding.

  • EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate) – Green Tea
  • Ginger
  • Carotene’s
  • Chines Skull Cap
  • Turmeric
  • Blueberry
  • Flavonoids – soy, red clover, coffee
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Feverfew
  • Lavender
  • Black Pepper
  • Quercetin
  • Resveratrol
  • Milk Thistle
  • Thyme
  • D3
  • Ashwagandha

Green Tea

Scientists at Nanjing Medical University and Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center in China studied the effect of the green tea polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), in the lab and found that it could reduce the growth of colon cancer stem cells by 50 percent.

Also, EGCG forced the cancer stem cells to commit cell suicide through the process of apoptosis. Another study from the University of Salford in England showed that matcha green tea, a form of powdered tea leaf, can interrupt the metabolic pathway of breast cancer stem cells, depriving them of energy and causing them to die. The effect of the EGCG in green tea on targeting cancer stem cells may help explain the protective effects of tea against colon and other cancers.


A pungent component within ginger known as 6-shogoal is superior to conventional chemotherapy in targeting the root cause of breast cancer malignancy: namely, the breast cancer stem cells. When the root is either dried or cooked, it was effective. The study also found that the cancer-destroying effects occurred at concentrations that were non-toxic to non-cancerous cells – a crucial difference from conventional cancer treatments.

Using fresh ginger in your smoothies, stir-fries, and grated into soups and stews, can give you a powerful anti-cancer, stem cell killing, boost!

Ginger Root


There are over one hundred research articles on turmeric and breast cancer. Forty-four for turmeric and colon cancer. Sixty-seven on using turmeric with prostate cancer. Fifty-three for liver cancer, thirty-six for pancreatic cancer, and thirty-eight for cancer metastasis. Turmeric is one of the most studied plants for cancer!

The raw root is the most powerful way to use turmeric. It is now readily available in most grocery stores in the produce section. It is easily grated or placed in a blender and ground up. You can also dice it and use it in cooked dishes.

There are many, many turmeric supplements on the market. Another cancer stem cell killer is black pepper. The combination of these two together is even more powerful than used alone.

Tumeric Powder


Blueberries have taken center stage for many years now. The research on this magical little fruit is massive. There are substances called phytonutrients in all plants, but especially in the blueberry, you find large quantities along with vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K and copper.

It’s best to buy organic if possible to get the highest nutrient content and to lower any pesticide exposure. The positive results of multiple studies have found that regular consumption of blueberries lowers your risk of cancers of the breast, colon, bladder, lung, esophagus, skin, and small intestine.

Serving size of 1 cup daily would be a great addition to your anti-cancer, stem cell killing program. Throw them into smoothies, on top of yogurt and oatmeal!


The primary reason why conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy have failed to produce any significant improvements in cancer survival rates is because cancer stem cells are resistant to these interventions.
– Sayer Ji, Founder GreenMed

The Flavonoid Family

This powerful family includes all your citrus, berries, onions, parsley, kale, red grapes, and dark chocolate.

Flavonoids can inhibit cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis, while also promoting apoptosis (cell death).

Include flavonoid-rich foods into your daily diet and you will be giving your body plenty of cancer stem cell fighting ammo!

Dark Chocolate

Cruciferous Vegetables

These are truly the star of the show for hormonally mediated cancers. Upon eating a cruciferous vegetable, glucosinolates (found in these veggies) break down into isothiocyanates and indoles. These compounds help your liver detoxify the fat-soluble hormones and excrete the “bad” estrogens.

This family includes cabbage, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, and collard greens. Eating at least three servings (1 cup) per week of these powerful nutrients is suggested!

Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts


This compound is very anti-inflammatory and a member of the flavonoid family. Quercetin is contained in abundance in apples, raw honey, raspberries, onions, red grapes, cherries, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables. Among vegetables and fruits, quercetin content is highest in onions.

These are all foods you can easily incorporate into your daily diet. If your not a fan of onions, you can cook them “into” soups and stews to still get the benefit of quercetin.


Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is another one of those substances that have had hundreds and hundreds of research papers published on it and the role in preventing cancer. I did a deep dive on vitamin D here if you would like to read more.

I highly recommend you have a yearly vitamin D test to ascertain your levels and to make sure you are way above the minimum of 30 ng/mL. Ideally, you want to be between 50 ng/mL and 60 ng/mL.

Salmon, tuna, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks are all high in vitamin D. Of course, the sun is your best source. Try and get 20 minutes of the mid-day sun, without sunscreen, a couple of times of week during the sunny months. Supplementation is wise if you have had cancer.


There are additional foods and herbs in the list above that can easily be added to your weekly menu. The important thing to remember is you do have the power to fight these cancer stem cells and prevent them from setting up shop somewhere else in the body. Be diligent and you will thrive!

About the Author: Chris McKee

Chris McKee Certified Nutritionist and Certified Diet Counselo

Chris McKee is a Certified Nutritionist and Certified Diet Counselor with over 30 years of experience in whole-food cooking, healthy lifestyle coaching, individual nutritional counseling and speaking to 1,000’s of people about the role of good nutrition in preventing disease.

Chris is also a Certified Nutragenomix practitioner and this allows her to look deep into your genetic profile and personalize your nutrition program based on your unique genetic fingerprint.

She runs on-line courses including her 10 Day Clean Eating Challenge, 21 Days Prepping for the Keto Diet as well as her Hope 4 Cancer Recovery program.

Chris and her husband Ed love to travel, hence the name “The Nomadic Nutritionist”.  She is a grandmother of four and a great-grandma of two!  She loves to cook, explore new food finds, hike and fish.

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