AICR'S FOODS THAT FIGHT CANCER

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens, chicory and Swiss chard all have some fiber, folate and a wide range of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin, along with saponins and flavonoids.

Researchers believe that carotenoids seem to prevent cancer by acting as antioxidants – that is, scouring potentially “free radicals” from the body before they can do harm. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.

Current Research

Dark green leafy vegetables are categorized as non-starchy. After a systematic review of the global scientific literature, AICR/WCRF analyzed how non-starchy vegetables affect the risk of developing cancer. This comprehensive review of decades of research concluded that there is strong – probable - evidence that:

- foods containing dietary fiber DECREASE the risk of colorectal cancer

- a diet high in non-starchy vegetables along with fruits DECREASE the risk of lips, mouth, tongue and other aerodigestive cancers

Evidence categorized as "probable" means there is strong research showing a causal relationship to cancer – either decreasing or increasing the risk. The research must include quality human studies that meet specific criteria and biological explanations for the findings. A probable judgement is strong enough to justify recommendations.

Source: AICR/WCRF. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, 2018.

Ongoing Research

AICR funds current research on the following topics relating to dark green vegetables and the cancer-fighting components they contain. You can search for relevant AICR-funded studies performed to date on our AICR Grants: