Essentiality of zinc for humans was discovered 45 yr ago. Deficiency of zinc is prevalent world wide in developing countries and may affect nearly 2 billion subjects. The major manifestations of zinc deficiency include growth retardation, hypogonadism in males, cell-mediated immune dysfunctions, and cognitive impairment. Zinc not only improves cell mediated immune functions but also functions as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation have been implicated in development of many cancers. In patients with head and neck cancer, we have shown that nearly 65% of these patients were zinc deficient based on their cellular zinc concentrations. Natural killer (NK) cell activity and IL-2 generation were also affected adversely. Th2 cytokines were not affected. In our patients, zinc status was a better indicator of tumor burden and stage of disease in comparison to the overall nutritional status. Zinc status also correlated with number of hospital admissions and incidences of infections. NF-kappa B is constitutively activated in many cancer cells, and this results in activation of antiapoptotic genes, VEGF, cyclin DI, EGFR, MMP-9 and inflammatory cytokines. Zinc inhibits NF-kappa B via induction of A-20. Thus, zinc supplementation should have beneficial effects on cancer by decreasing angiogenesis and induction of inflammatory cytokines while increasing apoptosis in cancer cells. Based on the above, we recommend further studies and propose that zinc should be utilized in the management and chemoprevention of cancer.