Can parsley reduce cancer risk?

Research suggests parsley has anti-cancer effects


You’ve heard me say “better bones = better body” — but the reverse is also true! If you take care of your body, you’re by default improving your bone health.

One fascinating example is parsley, which turns out to be a simple herb with not-so-simple effects.

We hear a lot about “cancer-fighting foods” but parsley always seems to be overlooked. While most people use it as a garnish, several studies suggest it may have anti-cancer effects as well.

Here’s what the research says about parsley and cancer:

  • Parsley contains a flavone called apigenin, which recently was discovered to suppress an enzyme complex called IKKα. Without going into the complicated details, IKKα is used by cancerous cells to support their reproductive cycle, so in suppressing it, apigenin helps prevent cancer cells from reproducing themselves.
  • Many different vegetables and herbs contain apigenin, but it’s especially plentiful in parsely. A cup of chopped, raw parsley has about 180 mg of apigenin, which is 18 times the dose used in a German clinical trial that found that a mix of apigenin and EGCg (an ingredient in green tea) could help prevent recurrence of colon cancer.
  • Another study in prostate cancer cells found that apigenin shut down progression of cancer.

An important note: a third study found some drawbacks when used with chemotherapy drugs often used to treat leukemia — which means people who are actively getting treated for cancer probably shouldn’t add apigenin-containing foods to their diet.

For the rest of us, though, the lowly parsley plant represents an opportunity to give our body some support. It doesn’t take much — parsley has so much apigenin, a tablespoon or so a day is equivalent to the dose in the study. So just add a little tabbouleh to your sandwich for some alkalizing, anti-cancer punch!


Hoensch H, Groh B, Edler L, Kirch W. Prospective cohort comparison of flavonoid treatment in patients with resected colorectal cancer to prevent recurrence. World J Gastroenterol. 2008;14(14):2187-2193.

Ruela-de-Sousa RR, Fuhler GM, Blom N, Ferreira CV, Aoyama H, Peppelenbosch MP. Cytotoxicity of apigenin on leukemia cell lines: implications for prevention and therapy. Cell Death and Dis. 2010;1(1):e19. doi:10.1038/cddis.2009.18.

Shukla S, Kanwal R, Shankar E, et al. Apigenin blocks IKKα activation and suppresses prostate cancer progression. Oncotarget. September 2015. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.5157

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