In a still contentious area of study, one of the most herbal cures around does seem to offer cancer protection against cancer. Chlorophyll in green vegetables could help shield the body against tumors caused by environmental exposure to carcinogens.
However, strangely, chlorophyll actually increases the number of tumors when you are exposed to very high levels of cancer-causing substances. The research raises questions about what a real health risk is and what dietary approaches might be useful for avoiding cancer.
There’s considerable evidence in humans that chlorophyll and its derivative, “chlorophyllin,” could protect against cancer. The study, done on rainbow trout, found that chlorophyll can reduce tumors — up to a point. But, at very high doses of the same carcinogen, chlorophyll actually made the problem worse.
In one part of the study, trout were exposed to fairly moderate levels of a known carcinogen, but also given chlorophyll. This reduced their number of liver tumors by between 30% and 64% and stomach tumors by between 24% and 45%. Yet, in another part of the study, using much higher and unrealistic doses of the same carcinogen, the use of chlorophyll caused a significant increase in the number of tumors.
This offsets previous studies that found chlorophyll might increase cancer risk, because it was traditionally done on mice and used high, unrealistic levels of carcinogens. In other words, they believe that trout will give a more accurate picture than the confines of rodent studies. And trout suggested the opposite.
(Plus: see how chlorophyll can boost your immune system: Eating Green for a Strong Immune System.)
What they think happens is that chlorophyll binds to carcinogens in your stomach and intestines and helps eliminate them from the body. At the lower carcinogen doses and cancer rates relevant to humans, chlorophyll was strongly protective.
They believe that experiments done with fish may be about 20 times less expensive and, in the end, more scientifically valid. And more relevant to the cancer risk that humans face.
Chlorophyll is found in most green vegetables, so up your intake of those items as a dietary approach to cancer prevention. Chlorophyll is also now a supplement available at your local health store.