Seven natural compounds shown to fight Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Seven natural compounds shown to fight Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Triple Negative Breast Cancer or TNBC has a number of clear features that do respond to both Natural treatments and bioactive compounds - here are seven bioactive compounds and three supporting treatments.
Sunshine (Vitamin D)

BRCA1 mutations are frequently linked with TNBC. Researchers led by Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University studying the BRCA1 gene mutation, have identified the pathway involved. When the pathway is active, tumours grow rapidly. However, the researchers showed that vitamin D could block the pathway. Clinical trials are now underway.

Importantly, a second completely unrelated study seems to back up these findings. According to a study in the Journal of Cellular Biology, researchers found that a protein (53 BPI) normally inhibits cancer cell growth but a compound called cathepsin L can invade the cell’s nucleus and block 53 BPI causing uncontrolled cell division and cancer cell growth. Researchers found that vitamin D blocks cathapsin L.

Sunshine is an important provider of Vitamin D.

Supplementation of 125 micrograms (5,000 IUs) is recommended for people with cancer until their levels are 125 nmol/L. (Professor Michael Holick and also the Endocrine Society recommend 100-150 nmol/L.) Many people use Vitamin D3/K2 as the K2 is synerrgistic with Vitamin D3 and also helps protect the liver and bones.

Hyperbaric Oxygen

TNBC tumours are known to exhibit a high level of Hypoxia. They have the lowest presence of oxygen. A meta-analysis of Hyperbaric Oxygen showed (1) that using an HBOT chamber was a good way of overcoming this. There is also research on the compound fucoidan (2). 

Sugar control 

Bother Berberine and the diabetes drug Metformin have been shown to have cytoxic effects on TNBC. We prefer the natural compound, Berberine,. It is not just that it reduces fasting blood sugar levels. It has several research studies showing multiple effects against TNBC growth and metazstases. 

Go to: Berberine benefits with TNBC 

Broccoli, Diindolymethane or DIM

Back in 2009 researchers at UCLA found that indole 3 carbinol (I3C) could stop an enzyme crucial to the rapid growth of breast cancer cells. I3C is most commonly found in broccoli and kale. This research result was supported by other studies (for example, at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey).

One metabolite of I3C, Diindolylmethane or DIM, seems to be a very powerful, active ingredient. And levels of this may be easier to control via supplementation (In Vivo, July/August 2009) 

Scientists at Texas and Florida’s A&M University Medical Center are convinced Indole 3 Carbinol and DIM can have a role to play in treating Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), as well as Oestrogen positive (Er+) breast cancer.

DIM has been shown to stop metastases and cancer cell Invasion; it down-regulates both a binding protein and its receptor in breast cancer cells as well as in ovarian cancer cells. (March 28, 2008 Cancer Letter)

DIM has also been shown to decrease HIF-1 alpha and stops tumours forming a blood supply (May, 2008 Biochemical Pharmacology Journal). It increases levels of oxygen in cells and can cause cancer cell death.

DIM is also known to be an anti-inflammatory agent.

According to Doctors Mandip Sachdeva and Chandraiah Godugung (from the Florida A&M University) and Doctor Stephen Safe from Texas A&M University, DIM, or diindolylmethane, DIM can act against TNBC. Presenting at the 2012 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting they announced that they had discovered ‘an effective treatment for TNBC’.

DIM has several separate but crucial actions. For example, it can regulate both hormone balance and cell behaviour. In the case of the former, it denatures the form of human oestrogen known to cause cell and DNA damage, oestradiol.

DIM (and I3C) also have several anti-cancer activities quite independent of any
anti-oestrogen activity. For example, they act via the p27 gene which causes cancer cell death or apoptosis.

Curcumin, or Turmeric

Curcumin is known to have extensive powers against cancer. Professor Argawal of MD Anderson has carried out an extensive number of clinical trials and says that there is no cancer process and no cancer unaffected by curcumin.

A research team from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany has shown that curcumin can inhibit the formation of metastases in breast cancer.

In previous studies Dr. Beatrice Bachmeier demonstrated that curcumin (turmeric) significantly reduces the incidence of metastases to the lungs in breast cancer patients.

Metastases is associated with an increase in the pro-inflammatory cytokines, CXCL 1 and CXCL 2. The study team found that curcumin can alter the expression of these two damaging proteins and thus directly inhibit metastatic spread.

Sulforaphane is also known to interfere with TNBC invasion and migration through the Hedgehog pathway, and epigenetic signalling (2).

"If you are already thinking of supplementing, you may like to look at what Natural Selection has to offer by clicking here."


Eating blueberries may inhibit TNBC growth, according to a study by researchers at the Department of Cancer Biology, City of Hope in Los Angeles and published in the October 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. A double study found that the oral intake of whole blueberry powder could reduce the growth and metastasis of TNBC.

The Professor at the Department of cell biology, Dr. Shiuan Chen has shown that blueberry juice can inhibit cancer cell growth, and when taking blueberry powder, metastases were inhibited and the effect was dose-dependent.

Rose Hips

According to a presentation at FASEB in Boston, researchers led by Patrick Martin, PhD, associate professor of biology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCATSU) in Greensboro, showed that Rose Hip extract significantly reduced the growth and migration of cells from TNBC.

They treated tissue cultures of TNBC cells with several concentrations of rose hip extract. Exposure to the highest concentration (1.0 mg/ml) decreased TNBC-cell proliferation by 50%. It appears to work by reducing MAPK and Akt, two enzymes that are known to promote cell growth in triple negative breast cancer.

Previous work suggested Rose hip extract stopped cancer spreading to, and in, the brain. 

Researchers Mathew Cook, Yayun Liang, Cynthia Besch-Williford and Salman Hyder of Columbia Medical School showed that in an in vivo study of human TNBC cells in mice, Luteolin (LU) suppressed metastases to the lungs. In vitro studies showed LU inhibited cell migration and cancer cell growth. Indeed, even low levels of LU suppressed Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), and this VEGF inhibition could probably apply to many cancers. The results were published December 22nd 2016.

Previous research has shown Luteolin’s anticancer properties include induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of cell proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis.

Go To: The top 25 natural compounds that can reverse cancer

Luteolin also sensitises cancer cells and increases the success of anti-cancer drugs. It helps by encouraging cell death (apoptosis) and stimulates the p53 gene.

(NF-κB), and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), and stimulating apoptosis pathways including those that induce the tumor suppressor p53.

Dietary sources of luteolin include carrots, peppers, artichoke, celery, olive oil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme and peppermint.

Red hot Chilli peppers

German researchers, Ruhr-University Bochum’s Dr. Habil Hanns Hatt and Dr. Lea Weber, have shown that capsaicin alters receptors on the cell membrane in cancer cells – in particular an ‘olfactory’ receptor, TRPV1. When capsaicin acted on TRPV1, calcium and sodium levels inside the cancer cell fluctuated widely and caused cancer cell death. This research was conducted with TNBC breast cancer cells in vitro. It is not the first time CANCERactive has covered research on chilli peppers’ primary ingredient capsaicin and its anti-cancer properties.

Go to: Epigenetics, bioactive compounds and TNBC



2. Bao, C, Kim, MC, Chen, J, Song, J, Ko, HW, Lee, HJ. Sulforaphene interferes with human breast cancer cell migration and invasion through inhibition of hedgehog signaling. J Agric Food Chem. 2016;64:5515-5524.

2017 Research
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