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December 7, 2016

Eating walnuts can help reduce cancer risk

Do you know that walnut contains super nutrients which can suppress 13 types of cancer from growing?!

Walnuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your cholesterol and heart health. Medical researchers have found that walnuts contain many types of unique cancer fighting polyphenols, protein peptides and bioactive components that that can stop cancer stem cells from self-renewing. So, what would you say if I told you that eating walnuts may actually help you fight off cancer?

Let’s look into this further.


Have some walnuts every day; make the cancer shrink and decay! Article written by Bernadette Yu, R.TCMP, R.HNEdit your caption text here

5 of the most recent scientific studies show walnut’s super power in killing and suppressing cancer growth!

Medical Research #1 (Published Sept 2016) [1]

Walnuts contain 20-25% protein. With an increased global demand for walnut oil and a lack of demand for the walnut flesh, the flesh which is rich in protein, becomes waste. To find out if this protein can provide any medicinal value and increase the cancer killing potency of existing chemotherapeutic drugs, a cancer research project collected walnut protein waste and tested it against the viability of two different cancers. One being a type of human breast cancer (MDA-MB231), the other being a type of colon cancer (HT-29). The result was surprising!

The scientists were able to identify a peptide fraction that inhibits the growth of both breast cancer and colon cancer cells. They were able to see a 61-65% growth reduction for the type of breast cancer (MDA-MB231) tested against.  A 50-52% growth reduction for the type of colon cancer (HT-29) was also seen.

The significant outcome of this project is that the scientists are able to prove the cytotoxicity of walnut protein against breast (MDA-MB231) and colon (HT-29) cancers. What does the result imply? That protein from walnut flesh may provide a promising cure for breast and colon cancers!

Medical Research #2 (Published July 2016) [2]

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Despite advances in colorectal cancer screening, as well as in surgical resectioning and chemotherapeutic drug therapy, there is a 50% cancer recurrence rate. This high colorectal cancer recurrence rate is highly correlated to the Cancer stem cell’s (CSC) ability for self-renewal (replace, rebuild and repair), differentiation (generating multiple or specializing cell types) and generating tumors (tumorigenicity). These functions of the cancer stem cell make the cancer cells become chemotherapeutic drug-resistant, anti-radiation proof, highly proliferative and invasive. They even increase their ability to metastasize (spreading and developing in various parts of the body).

In this cancer study, researchers targeted cancer stem cells. Their experiments investigated a potential therapeutic approach to treat colorectal cancer (CRC) with the use of polyphenols. These are naturally occurring substances which exist mainly in the Plant kingdom.

Many types of polyphenols are known to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Some of these can inhibit cancer growth, some induce cancer cell death (apoptosis) and some directly suppress cancer stem cell activities and functions. Walnut, which contains many types of polyphenols known for their anti-carcinogenic properties, was selected for this study.

During the experiment, the researchers extracted a spectrum of bioactive phenolic compounds from walnuts. They named this compound “Walnut Phenolic Extract”. The major phenolic compounds within the “Walnut Phenolic Extract” include gallic acid, (+)-catechin, clorogenic acid and ellagic acid. All of these demonstrated abilities in suppressing cancer development in many recent cancer studies. The focus of this study was to investigate the effect of WPE on human colon cancer stem cells and on colon cancer cells from cancer cell line HCT116. The purpose of this experiment was to find out how the walnut phenolic contents affect cancer stem cells’ survivability and how they induce the cancer cells to carry out apoptosis (cell-death).

Due to the synergistic effects of the individual phenolic compounds in the “Walnut Phenolic Extract”, researchers found that “Walnut Phenolic Extract” was more effective in suppressing cell growth than individual phenolic compounds identified and experimented with.

The researchers were able to confirm the ability of “Walnut Phenolic Extract” to suppress cancer stem cell’s self-renewal capability. They measured the size and number of the cancer spheres that formed from the cancer stem cells. After exposure to “Walnut Phenolic Extract” for 6 days, cancer stem cell formation was suppressed by up to 72% compared to the untreated control stem cells.

This discovery is very significant as the results show that the phenolic compounds, along with the bioactive compounds of walnut, can suppress cancer stem cells activity. The compounds also prevent the cancer cells from performing self-renewal.

Two very important notes from this experiment were made. All cancer stem cells and cancer cells had a maximum of 6 days of exposure to the “Walnut Phenolic Extract” during the experiment. The experimental results also showed that cancer growth suppression is dose-dependent. This means that where more walnut phenolic and bioactive compounds were used, better results were measured in controlling cancer growth and development. These results may also imply the possibility that daily or regular consumption of walnuts may help prevent and / or exterminate cancer in a gradual process. This, of course, is my opinion only and would require further proving.

Medical Research #3 (published Feb 2016) [3]

Zinc is one of the major essential minerals that naturally exists in some food. It’s required to initiate enzymatic reaction for over 300 enzymes in our body. It’s involved in DNA replication and transcription. Zinc s a crucial element for normal immune system function. Zinc promotes normal growth and development as it assists in protein, bone and DNA synthesis, wound healing and cell division. Zinc is essential during all stages of our life including as a fetus, during infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age and pregnancy for women. As our body does not store zinc, daily consumption of foods containing zinc is necessary to maintain good health.

As many previous research studies have shown walnut peptide has detrimental effects on breast cancer cells, researchers took a synergistic approach in this experiment. They combined zinc with walnut peptide (a protein chain) to create a walnut-zinc compound. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of exposing various types of human cancer cells to a Walnut-Zinc compound. Researchers selected human breast cancer cells from cancer cell line MCF-7 for this study.

In lab tests, the researchers exposed human breast cancer cells to a low concentration of the walnut-zinc compound (300 microgram per millimetre solution concentration) for 48 hours. Results revealed the cancer survival rate decreased to 20%. As the result, the cancer cells were also markedly reduced. The experiment concluded that a Walnut-Zinc compound can induce breast cancer cell apoptosis and cell cycle arrest.

Although it has been demonstrated that a single nutrient such as zinc or a bioactive component extracted from walnut is effective for use in cancer prevention, interactions between different components within the food play an important role in the success of using whole foods as a preventative. This research study demonstrated the hypothesis that a combination of nutrients and bioactive components increases the cancer cell apoptosis (cell death) effect, as compared to using an isolated component.

It is very exciting to see research scientists exploring the use of other essential minerals such as zinc (walnuts are naturally rich in zinc) to create a synergetic effect with walnut peptides to kill cancer in their experiment. I hope this helps you to understand the importance of using whole foods and supplementation to strengthen your body’s capability in preventing and killing cancer.

Medical Research #4 (published July 2015) [4]

Guglone is a very potent growth suppressor. It exists in various types of nut trees including in their roots. For centuries, walnut tree growers have known that where walnut trees grow, the surrounding area will be free of weeds. Also, any fruits or vegetables that grow in the surrounding ground will have very poor yields or will die. With this knowledge, researchers, over the past decades, have extracted Guglone from walnut bark, leaves, fruits, etc to create a herbicide (weed killer).

Out of curiosity as to whether Guglone has any effect on human body cells, an experiment was carried out in 2015. Researchers extracted and isolated the chemical component Guglone from walnut tree roots. The study involved investigation of its cytotoxic activity (toxicity to living cells). Researchers tested Guglone as well as various analogs (synthesized / man-made Guglone type compounds) on different human cancer cell lines.

Just as researchers expected, Guglone showed potent growth suppression and cytotoxic properties on various types of human cancer cells selected for the experiment.

What’s so amazing about this research experiment is that the results showed that Guglone, extracted from walnut tree roots, has potent anti-cancer suppressing / killing properties on 8 different human cancer cell lines. These cancer cell lines belong to 2 types of colon cancer (Colo-205, HCT-116), 1 type of breast cancer (T47D), 2 types of prostate cancer (PC-3 and DU-145), 1 type of skin cancer (A-431) and 2 types of lung cancers (NCI-H322 and A549).

With the knowledge that Guglone has a cancer killing effect, researchers created a synthetic form of Guglone in an attempt to patent and create a more powerful cancer killing drug. The analog (synthetic Guglone) showed heightened cytotoxic effects on two Lung cancer cell lines, A549 and NCI-H322. To the researchers’ disappointment, the synthetic form of Guglone did not exhibit any cytotoxic effect on any other human cancer cells selected.

However, when comparing the cancer killing effects of synthetic Guglone with one of the most cytotoxic lung cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, BEZ-235, synthetic Guglone demonstrated superior cytotoxic potency. With the creation of synthetic Guglone, the researchers have another potential chemotherapeutic drug available for Lung Cancer research and treatment. Hopefully, this new drug will have less harmful side effects than the current BEZ-235 chemotherapeutic drug used for lung cancer patients.

Medical Research #5 (Published November 2014) [5]

Walnut is naturally rich in ellagitannins (ETs), an anticancer polyphenol. Ellagitannins (ETs), once consumed, are hydrolyzed (broken down into smaller molecules by chemical reaction with water) to release ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is another very important anti-inflammatory and anticancer polyphenol.

Urolithins A and B are the metabolites (byproducts) of ellagic acid after they are digested by our normal intestinal flora. Urolithins A and B also happen to have anti-cancer properties. They are proven to slow down the growth and proliferation of many types of cancer cells. However, the mechanisms remain unclear at present to the research scientists.

In this experiment, researchers used Urolithin A (derived from gut flora) to study the interaction between Urolithins and Prostate cancer cells (the LNCaP prostate cancer cell line). Specifically the researchers aim to understand the mechanisms that relate to androgen receptor (AR), which have been linked to the development of LNCaP prostate cancer.

As expected, researchers were able to prove that Urolithin compounds can weaken the androgen receptor (AR) function. They did this by suppressing the transferring of genetic information to Specific Antigen (PSA). The experiment also showed that Urolithins induce cancer cell apoptosis (cell death).

So what’s so special about this research?

This research result shows that by supporting our gut flora through consuming healthy foods such as walnuts, our gut flora can reciprocate by providing us with anti-cancer substances such as Urolithins A and B. So, if we want to live a cancer free life, we should eat real food such as walnuts. These foods support our gut flora which in turn, supports our health and promotes longevity!

Based on medical research results, what cancer cells can be defeated by walnuts?

Based on the medical research results, walnuts may be used as an adjunct dietary cancer recovery plan. Walnuts may help fight 3 types of Breast cancer, 3 types of colon cancer, 1 type of cancer stem cell, 2 types of lung cancer, 3 types of prostate cancer and 1 type of skin cancer.

Nutrition value and cancer fighting effect at a glance:

Tree Nut

Fat (grams per ounce)

Protein (grams per ounce)

Carbohydrates (grams per ounce)

Types of Cancer apoptosis / growth suppression?


Human Breast (MDA-MB231 and T47D)


(1 oz)




Combined with Zinc: Human Breast (MCF-7)


Human Colon (HT-29, Colo-205 and HCT-116)


Human Colon Stem Cells (CSCs)


Prostate (LNCaP, PC-3 and DU-145)


Skin (A-431)


Lung (NCI-H322, A549)

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to present clinical data to the general public in a way which make it easier for you to understand the scientific and therapeutic uses of food/herbs. The author of this article does not endorse any brand supplements or products mentioned in this article.

This blog post was written as the result of my active research and study for adjunct cancer treatment to use with my existing cancer patients in Mississauga to help then in fighting cancer. Thank you for reading this article. Please click the share button on this page if you feel this article may be of interest to others in their cancer fighting journey.


Bernadette Yu

Bernadette Yu is an Ontario Registered Acupuncturist & Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. She provides Acupuncture Treatment, Chinese Herbal Medicine Consultation and prescriptions, Nutritional Counselling and Bioenergetic testing services in a medical clinic in Mississauga, Ontario.

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