Your Anti-Cancer Mother’s Day Gift: Myricetin

walnuts public domainMyricetin may not yet grace your doctor’s anti-cancer tool kit, but put it on your prescription pad. Among all the phytonutrients, it’s what I call “plantastic”– blessed with a chemical structure that works some anti-cancer wonder.  

Look at this cell study:  Myricetin killed the DNA of cancer cells more than any other phytonutrient studied–

  • more than quercetin and kaempferol (We’ve talked about them a lot)
  • more than fisetin, a close second.  (Are you eating your organic strawberries and apple peel?) 

How do they do this?  

All of these phytos belong to a special class called flavonols, which act as anti-oxidants in normal cells. They help neutralize free radicals of oxygen, molecules of oxygen that are missing an electron and thus steal electrons from–and damage– other cells. 

 In cancer cells,  however, these flavonols seem to act as pro-oxidants, promoting oxidation and creating free radicals.  When overwhelmed with free radical damage, cells simply die

This anti-cancer alchemy–the ability to selectively kill cancer cells, but help normal cells survive–may have everything to do with the Fenton reaction. 

Remember this experiment from high school chemistry? Add some copper or iron to a test tube of neutral molecules and you get an explosion of free radicals.

Scientists think the same thing might happen in cancer cells, although the mechanism isn’t entirely understood. Cancer cells sequester lots of iron and copper; they use the minerals as fuels for growth. When phytonutrients bind to all that iron and copper, they may spark an increase in free radicals–or deplete the iron and copper available for cancer cells to grow. “Both of these effects can result in apoptosis…” (cell suicide), say scientists

Now guess what myricetin is really good at.  Among flavonols, it’s great at binding both copper and iron.    (Quercetin was second best in that study; fisetin wasn’t examined.)

So where can you get your myricetin? 

Top common sources include:

  • walnuts 
  • veggies: celery leaves, garlic, parsley, rutabaga
  • berries: bilberries, black currants, blackberries, cranberries, gojis, mulberries, strawberries

(Sources of info: USDA Flavonoid Database;  Phenol Explorer and here and here and here)

And here’s the most plantastic news for Mother’s Day: The authors of that study finding myricetin so powerful in its anti-cancer actions suggest you may not need that much.  




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