After you read this, you will be a polyphenol fanatic (if you’re not already)


The Takeaway First

Polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant found in countless fruits and vegetables, hold “great promise” for the future prevention of prostate cancer, according to a review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. These widely available micronutrients work by fine-tuning the existing machinery of our bodies and even altering our gene expression. “Wait…what?!” Read more below.

Know Your Polyphenols

Before we start, know that polyphenols come in four varieties: phenolic acids, stilbenes, curcuminoids, and flavonoids. Phenolic acids and flavonoids make up about 90 percent of all of our dietary polyphenols.

Anacardic acid, a phenolic acid found in the Cuachalalate plant (native to Mexico and commercially available), has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-oxidative and anti-microbial properties. It keeps tumors from growing new blood vessels and also regulates gene expression (Tan et al., 2012).

Caffeic acid, another phenolic acid found in coffee, has anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties in vitro and promote heart health (Greenwald, 2004).

Ellagic acid makes up half of the antioxidant content in pomegranates and has anti-carcinogenic and anti-fibrosis properties (Thresiamma & Kuttan, 1996; Bell & Hawthorne, 2008).

Gallic acid, found in several fruits, wines, nuts and other plant products, has been found to have chemopreventive properties in mice with prostate cancer (Wolfe, Wu & Liu, 2003; Agarwal, Tyagi & Agarwal, 2006).

Three stilbenes called picetannol, pterostilbene and resveratrol are all found in grapes and grape skins. They all have chemopreventive strength by virtue of their ability to alter signaling pathways in CaP cells.

Epigallocathechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a classic flavonoid found in green tea that has anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, hypocholesterolemic, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor and cancer preventive properties.

Proanthocyanidins are found in apple peel, red kidney beans, pinto beans, cacao beans, cocoa, grape seeds, blueberries, several nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, etc.), sorghum, and cinnamon, and they also have been found to modulate (Ishida, Takeshita & Kataoka, 2014).

Fisetin, which is a specific type of flavonoid called a flavonol (all these technical names, geez), can be found in onions and cucumbers. It throws a wrench into several prostate cancer lines (Khan et al., 2008).

My Take on Polyphenols

Believe it or not, that list above was incomplete. That’s how abundantly helpful polyphenols are in the fight against disease. The point of all this is that countless polyphenols have a strong foundation in the literature that supports their potential for not only cancer prevention but for the prevention of other diseases as well. No, you don’t have to know all of them, but you do have to eat all of them. (So, knowing would help.)

The foods you want to load up on are berries (organic if you can), green tea (about 6 cups a day), beans (great in salads), grapes, pomegranates, onions, cucumbers and pineapples. Basically, eat a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, plus coffee or green tea.

Be well!


Agarwal, C., Tyagi, A., & Agarwal, R. (2006). Gallic acid causes inactivating phosphorylation of cdc25A/cdc25C-cdc2 via ATM-Chk2 activation, leading to cell cycle arrest, and induces apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma DU145 cells. Molecular cancer therapeutics5(12), 3294-3302.

Bell, C., & Hawthorne, S. (2008). Ellagic acid, pomegranate and prostate cancer—a mini review. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology60(2), 139-144.

Greenwald, P. (2004). Clinical trials in cancer prevention: current results and perspectives for the future. The Journal of nutrition134(12), 3507S-3512S.

Ishida, Y. I., Takeshita, M., & Kataoka, H. (2014). Functional foods effective for hepatitis C: Identification of oligomeric proanthocyanidin and its action mechanism. World journal of hepatology6(12), 870.

Khan, N., Afaq, F., Syed, D. N., & Mukhtar, H. (2008). Fisetin, a novel dietary flavonoid, causes apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human prostate cancer LNCaP cells. Carcinogenesis29(5), 1049-1056.

Lall, R. K., Syed, D. N., Adhami, V. M., Khan, M. I., & Mukhtar, H. (2015). Dietary polyphenols in prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. International journal of molecular sciences16(2), 3350-3376.

Tan, J., Chen, B., He, L., Tang, Y., Jiang, Z., Yin, G., … & Jiang, X. (2012). Anacardic acid (6-pentadecylsalicylic acid) induces apoptosis of prostate cancer cells through inhibition of androgen receptor and activation of p53 signaling. Chinese Journal of Cancer Research24(4), 275-283.

Thresiamma, K. C., & Kuttan, R. (1996). Inhibition of liver fibrosis by ellagic acid. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology40(4), 363-366.

Wolfe, K., Wu, X., & Liu, R. H. (2003). Antioxidant activity of apple peels.Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry51(3), 609-614.


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