Celery: A Potent Cancer Fighter

Did You Know…this seemingly mild vegetable is a fierce cancer fighter?

Celery was first recognized for its medicinal properties in the 9th century, well before it became a food source during the Middle Ages. Like many plants used by ancient herbalists, it fell out of favor with the rise of industrialized medicine. If celery isn’t already on your shopping list, recent findings, especially concerning its anti-cancer effects, offer compelling reasons to add it.

Don’t let the watery taste of this humble vegetable fool you. Two new studies show celery (Apium graveolens) is packed with compounds that kill pancreatic cancer cells. And as you’ve probably already heard, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancer types.

500% Increase in Cancer Cell Destruction

The stalks, leaves, and seed of the celery plant are potent sources of bioactive flavonoids—including apigenin and luteolin, two substances shown in laboratory studies to generate a 500 percent increase in the self-destruction rate of pancreatic cancer cells.

Pancreatic is the fourth most deadly cancer—only 6% of those it strikes survive 5 years. Not only is it an extremely aggressive type of cancer, but it is also typically diagnosed at more advanced stages as there are few early symptoms. Strong scientific evidence indicates that the flavonoids found in celery combat pancreatic cancer in a number of ways.

Apigenin in particular can…

  • Inhibit glucose uptake
  • Set off apoptosis (cause cancer cells to kill themselves)
  • Shatter the cancer cell cycle

Flavonoids Are Crucial to Cancer Prevention

A developing body of research shows flavonoids are a crucial aspect of any cancer-prevention strategy. According to Dr. Elvira de Mejia, a professor of food chemistry and food toxicology at the University of Illinois, exposure to bioactive flavonoids like those found in celery and some other vegetables reduces your risk of cancer.

Caution must be used when combining flavonoids with chemotherapy, however. “Flavonoids and chemotherapeutic drugs may compete with each other when they’re introduced at the same time,” said study co-author Jordee Johnson, Ph.D.

That’s because flavonoids can act as antioxidants, and one way chemotherapeutic drugs kill cells is through pro-oxidant activity. “Our study indicated that taking [flavonoids] on the same day as chemotherapeutic drugs may negate the effects of those drugs,” Johnson said.

An Alternative to Chemotherapy? Flavonoids Fight at Least 6 Kinds of Cancer

For those with slow-growing prostate or other cancers, who are looking to forgo chemotherapy altogether, flavonoids may be a valuable option. A separate study published in the journal Hormones and Cancer found that apigenan, one of the flavonoids found in high concentrations in celery, slowed the progression of breast cancer tumors in mice. Other laboratory research suggests that apigenan and other flavonoids inhibit the growth of a multitude of cancers, such as…

  • Thyroid
  • Lung
  • Ovarian
  • Colon

Apigenan may also be valuable for fighting off leukemia.

Why Celery Should Be a Dietary Staple

Celery’s health-enhancing powers go beyond fighting cancer. This formidable vegetable has range of benefits, from alleviating gout to preventing cardiovascular disease to reducing your risk of diabetes. Along with flavonoids, celery provides hefty doses of…

  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Molybdenum

It is also loaded with 3-n-butylphthalide, a unique compound shown to enhance cognitive function.

Experts recommend choosing celery with crisp… compact… and relatively light stalks. The color of the leaves can vary from pale to bright green, but avoid any yellowing or black patches. To retain firmness, store in a container or plastic bag in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. And for super concentrated celery nutrition, consider juicing it, perhaps in combination with other complementary veggies such as cucumber, kale, and ginger root.