Diet Therapy for Cancer Prevention and Treatment Based on Traditional Persian Medicine

Nutr Cancer. 2018 Apr;70(3):376-403. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2018.1446095. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death with profound socio-economic consequences worldwide. Growing evidence suggests the crucial role of diet on cancer prevention and treatment. In Traditional Persian Medicine (TPM) there is a major focus on contribution of special diet and foods to cancer management. In the present article, the cytotoxic and antitumor activities of several food items including plants and animal products recommended by TPM as anticancer agents are discussed. Strong evidence supports the anticancer effects of beetroot (Beta vulgris) and its major compound betanin, cinnamon and cinnamaldehyde, barley (H. vulgare) and its products, extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper (P. nigrum) and its piperine, grapes (V. vinifera) and its compound resveratrol, ginger and its compound 6-gingerol, whey protein, fish, and honey. However, additional pharmacological studies and clinical trials are needed to elucidate their molecular and cellular mechanisms of actions, frequency, and amount of consumption, possible adverse effects, and optimum preparation methods. Moreover, studying mechanisms of actions of the bioactive compounds present in the discussed food items can be helpful in identifying and development of new anticancer agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Buttermilk
  • Egg Yolk / chemistry
  • Fish Products
  • Honey
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods*
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Whey Proteins / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Plant Extracts
  • Whey Proteins