Boost Chemotherapy with These Cancer-Fighting Fruits and Veggies

Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer, but one of the major hurdles is the resistance that tumors often develop against its effects. Luckily, researchers at the University of California Riverside have discovered that consuming specific fruits and vegetables during chemotherapy can boost its effectiveness. These fruits and vegetables are rich in a natural chemical called apigenin, making cancer cells more susceptible to the treatment.

Apigenin-Rich Foods

Apigenin can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, teas, and wines. Some of the best sources of apigenin include:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Artichokes
  • Celery
  • Basil

Research has shown that apigenin can inhibit the growth of several types of cancer cells, such as breast, colon, skin, thyroid, and leukemia. It has also been demonstrated to slow the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells.

How Apigenin Enhances Chemotherapy

The scientists at UC Riverside found that apigenin localizes a protein called tumor suppressor p53 within the cell nucleus. This suppressor, when present in the nucleus, makes cancer cells more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

Under normal circumstances, cells have low levels of p53 distributed throughout their cytoplasm and nucleus. When DNA in the nucleus is damaged, p53 relocates to the nucleus, where it activates genes that halt cell growth and ultimately cause cell death. As a result, p53 ensures that cells with damaged DNA are destroyed.

However, in many types of cancers, p53 is rendered inactive due to a process called cytoplasmic sequestration. This is where apigenin comes into play – it can reactivate p53 and transport it into the nucleus of cancer cells. This leads to the cessation of cell growth and the eventual death of the cancer cell.

Other Health Benefits of Apigenin

In addition to improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy, apigenin offers other health benefits. Some of these include:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: Apigenin has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, helping to reduce inflammation in the body. This is particularly beneficial for people with chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.

  2. Antioxidant activity: Apigenin also possesses antioxidant properties, which help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This can potentially minimize the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  3. Neuroprotective effects: Studies have suggested that apigenin may help to protect nerve cells from damage, which can be beneficial for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

  4. Anxiety relief: Some research has indicated that apigenin may have a calming effect on the brain, helping to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.

  5. Potential impact on diabetes: Preliminary studies have shown that apigenin may help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance, which could be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

Ways to Increase Apigenin Intake

To enjoy the benefits of apigenin, try incorporating more apigenin-rich foods into your daily diet. Some ideas for incorporating these foods include:

  • Snacking on fresh cherries, grapes, or sliced apples.
  • Adding celery or artichoke hearts to your salads.
  • Incorporating fresh basil into pasta dishes, salads, or homemade pesto.
  • Brewing tea made from chamomile or other apigenin-containing plants.
  • Enjoying a glass of red wine in moderation.


While chemotherapy can be an effective treatment for cancer, it’s important to bolster its effectiveness wherever possible. Incorporating apigenin-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet can make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy, improving the treatment’s overall efficacy. Additionally, apigenin offers a range of other health benefits, making it a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.