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Vegetable Supplement Triples Survival Time in Stage III and IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients

Cancer of the lung is the leading cause of cancer-related death in America. For Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer patients, the median survival time is 3-5 months with supportive care and 8-15 months with recently introduced chemotherapy protocols, which are, however, extremely toxic.

Many edible plants contains components with anti-cancer activities, and a number of these components-such as inositol hexaphosphate, daidzein, genistein, and coumestrol-have been purified and shown to have different modes of action. Although individually, their anti-cancer activities are modest, when combined, their synergy may offer significant hope for people with cancer.

A pilot study, published in 1999, reported that survival time was tripled in Stage III and IV lung cancer patients given a mixture of selected vegetables, and these promising results were confirmed in another study that appeared in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2001.

Ingredients in the mixture of selected vegetables included soybeans, mushrooms, mung beans, red dates, scallion, garlic, lentils, leek, Hawthorn fruit, onion, ginsengs, angelica root, licorice, dandelion root, Senegal root, ginger, olive, sesame seeds, and parsley.

Practical Tips

Besides the botanical medicines, virtually all the foods in the vegetable supplement are members of the World's Healthiest Foods. For more information on these foods, including many quick serving ideas, simply click its highlighted name in the following list: Shiitake mushrooms, ginger, lentils, olives, onions, parsley, sesame seeds, and soybeans.

A stir fry offers a quick, yet delicious way of combining most of these foods in one easy-to-fix meal. Healthy sauté a handful of mushrooms along with some chopped leeks, onions and garlic. Then add a sliver or two of fresh ginger root and some marinated tofu. When this is heated through, sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds, a few handfuls of chopped parsley, mung bean sprouts, and some fresh dandelion greens. Cover and continue to cook for just another minute or two until the greens are wilted. Immediately after removing from the heat, toss with rice vinegar and olive oil.

Research Summary

The potential benefit of using a mixture of selected vegetables (SV) known to contain anti-cancer compounds was first tested in a patient with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer 11 years ago; she remains alive and tumor free today. Subsequently, another non-small cell lung cancer patient with three metastatic brain lesions achieved complete regression with radiotherapy and daily SV supplementation and survived 14 months. These cases led to an initial study, published in 1999, in which SV was added to the daily diet of 5 Stage I patients and 6 Stage III and IV patients, but not to the diet of 13 Stage III and IV patients in the control group. While the median survival time patients in the control group was 4 months, in the patients given SV, median survival time was 15.5 months-a more than threefold increase, and, these benefits occurred with no clinical signs of toxicity. In fact, patients gained weight and did better on tests monitoring their overall ability to function.

These very encouraging results led to a further pilot study, which was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2001. In this study, 14 patients, whose therapy was conducted at prestigious cancer treatment centers across the US-including Mount Sinai Hospital (NY), Cornell University Medical College (NY), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NY), Yale New Haven Hospital (CT), Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston),Stanford University Hospital (CA), and the University of Washington School of Medicine (Seattle)-were given SV for 2-46 months. Again, the results were extremely promising.

The first lead case, who was given SV 11 years ago, has remained tumor free for more than 133 months; the second case showed complete regression of multiple brain lesions after using SV and radiotherapy. In the group of patients taking SV in the second pilot study, the median survival time was 33.5 months, and one-year survival was greater than 70%. Five patients had stable lesions for 30, 30, 20, 12, and 2 months; two of them, whose primary tumor was resected, used SV alone and demonstrated an objective lessening of their metastatic tumors. In addition to the two lead cases, eight patients had no new metastases after using SV. Three patients had complete regression of brain metastases after using radiotherapy and SV. The authors of this second pilot study are now urging that a large randomized phase III clinical trial be conducted to confirm these heartening results.

References: Sun AS, Ostadal O, Ryznar V, Dulik I, Dusek J, Vaclavik A, Yeh HC, Hsu C, Bruckner HW, Fasy TM. Phase I/II study of stage III and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients taking a specific dietary supplement. Nutr Cancer 1999;34(1):62-9. Sun AS, Yeh HC, Wang LH, Huang YP, Maeda H, Pivazyan A, Hsu C, Lewis ER, Bruckner HW, Fasy TM. Pilot study of a specific dietary supplement in tumor-bearing mice and in stage IIIB and IV non-small cell lung cancer patients. Nutr Cancer 2001;39(1):85-95