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Tongue Cancer? --- What to Eat

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November 28, 2016

By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist



Tongue cancer is on the rise among white women. A 2011 report by the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center found a sharp increase of oral carcinomas among white women, especially between the ages of 18 and 44. The study speculates that part of the reason for the increase in "oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma" is the human papilloma virus . However, no one has proven that this is the definitive reason for the spike. Over the past 3 decades of research, oral cancers have been strongly linked with drinking hot fluids, smoking and using chewing tobacco.

Whatever the cause, if you have been diagnose with tongue cancer, and you have moved past the initial disbelief, it may help you to know that there are things you can do, at home, to improve your body's ability to destroy this invader. Here is your battle cry---increase the flavonoids and antioxidants. 

These flavonoids and antioxidants should complement , rather than replace, any traditional therapies your doctor prescribes. And, moreover, you should discuss any dietary changes you plan to make with your doctor.


Flavonoids are Mother Nature's paint brush. They are the pigment chemicals in plants which give fruits and vegetables their vivid colors. 

Over 6,000 flavonoids have been identified to date. One of the best known flavonoids is quercetin responsible for the yellow color found in onions and other fruits. 

Others include anthocyanidins which give foods such as blueberries and eggplants their deep purple color. 

Many flavonoids and other phenolic antioxidants protect against heart disease and cancer.  This is the reason, scientists believe, that eating diets rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk for both heart disease and for cancer in general.

We say flavonoids lower cancer risk "in general" because so far scientists have not done specific studies that isolate each of the 6,000 flavonoids against each of the many different types of cancer.

About 85% of the flavonoids we eat in the United States are "flavon-3-ols" from apples, tea and cocoa, according to a 2012 study from University of Arizona Cancer Center. 

This means that we in the US are not exposed to many of the most potent flavonoids, because of the limited nature of our diets and the narrow range of fruits and vegetables we typically consume.

Boost the Amount of  Berries in Your Diet to Fight Cancer













Berries are rich in the flavonoid "anthocyaninidin" which has been singled by scientists for its strong anti-cancer effects. A 2006 study from scientists at Michigan State University found that an anthocyanidin called "malvidin" inhibited breast cancer cell growth by 74.7%, stomach cancer cell growth by 69%, colon cancer cell growth by 75.7% and

central nervous system carcinoma growth by 40%.

Anthocyanidins are found in red, blue and purple foods including


No study has yet isolated the effects of anthocyanidins against oral cancer cells. But that, we believe, is a function of the funding priority currently given to studies against some of the cancers with higher prevalence such as breast and colon cancer.  There is no reason to believe that anthocyanidins, which have been effective in inhibiting every type of cancer cell they have been tested against, would not also inhibit oral cancer cells.

A Very Berry Breakfast to Fight Tongue and Oral Cancer

Blend a scoop of soy or whey protein with yogurt. Add a half a cup of blueberries and de-seeded tart Mortmorency cranberries. The tart variety of cranberries contains higher levels of anthocyanidins.

Thin out the shake with milk or water if you find it too thick to comfortable swallow.


Curcumin Spice Is a Powerful Inhibitor of Cancer Cell Growth

Curcumin spice gives tumeric and curry their intense yellow color.  Curcumin is a strong anti-oxidant which has been widely studied for its anti-cancer properties.

Cancer begins in our bodies through many complex chemical pathways, scientists believe. A 2008 study from the University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center observed that cancer "dysregulates" as many as 500 different genes.

What is unique about curcumin is that it interacts with each of the multiple known pathways through which cancer starts and thrives. As the study noted, curcumin does more than simply inhibit proliferation of cancer cells, it inhibits "cell proliferation, invasion, metastisis, and angiogenesis". 


Curcumin has an strong inhibitory effect on the growth of cancer cells, a fact established through numerous studies.

Curcumin's ability to inhibit the growth of oral cancer cells in particular, was established in a 2000 study conducted by scientists from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Dentistry and Medicine. 

The typical way these types of experiments are conducted is to place cancer cells of a certain type --- in this case oral squamous carcinoma cells --- are placed in a petri dish. Different chemicals are then added to the petri dish to see if the cancer cells grow at all or at a slower than normal rate.

Using the method, the scientists discovered that adding curcumin to lab dish containing  oral cancer cells inhibited the growth of these cancer cells. 


A Curcumin Rich Midday Meal to Inhibit Tongue Cancer

Curcumin can be added to many dishes. You can add it to soups, stews, meats and even fish. But my favorite midday curcumin meal is a curcumin egg white omelette.

You will need a red bell pepper, a yellow onion, a red onion and mushrooms. Slice or dice, as you like, the red bell pepper, and the onions. Add extra virgin olive oil to a medium heat pan and slowly bring the peppers and onions to carmelization.

Add the sliced mushrooms.

Whip two egg whites. Add a generous tablespoon of curcumin and a dash of your favorite curry. I find that curcumin alone does not have the flavor I desire, so I add curry, which gives me even more curcumin plus other spices.  Add a dash of cumin. This will give the omelette a delicious "earthy" taste.

Now, the next step is important. Add black pepper. Curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body. One of the best ways to boost the "bioavailability" of curcumin is to add piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper. Piper increases the absorption of curcumin by an astounding 2000%.

For dinner? What else --- look for red cabbage at your grocer's. Pair it with a good piece of salmon or trout and a good glass of red wine.

Remember to only eat foods that are lukewarm if you have oral cancer. Hot drinks or food have been associated with an increase in throat and oral cancer.

So there you have it. A soothing morning smoothie and a delicious lunch omelette to help your body to inhibit further cancer growth.



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