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Phytosterols Against Cancer

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 3 September 2021
Phytosterols Against Cancer

Among the most studied natural compounds affecting reproductive hormones in the body are the phytosterols.

They are most concentrated in nuts and seeds of plants and are present in the oils expressed from these.

Pumpkin, sesame, flax, and sunflower seeds and oils are high in phytosterols, and cereal grains and legumes such as rice, wheat germ, soy, peas, and other beans also contain phytosterols.

Processing and hydrogenating the oils expressed from these foods destroy the phytosterols, and ingesting margarine produced from these otherwise healthy oils does not possess the same hormonal benefits as does eating whole nuts and seeds or consuming high-quality cold-expressed natural oils.

In fact, phytosterols are common in plants and everyday foods.

Taraxacum (Dandelion), Calendula (Marigold), and many other herbs contain phytosterols, as do most vegetables such as carrots and broccoli in at least trace amounts.

Phytosterols in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and vegetables may contribute to the anticancer effects of these foods when consumed over a lifetime.

Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) contains phytosterols, and researchers reported anticancer effects from eating dark chocolate (70% or greater levels of Cacao), including antimetastatic influences on prostate cancer. 

Two of the most researched and most popular herbs for the treatment of prostatic disease are nettle root and saw palmetto, both of which contain significant amounts of phytosterols. 


Bolling BW, McKay DL, Blumberg JB. The phytochemical composition and antioxidant actions of tree nuts. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):117-123.
Han JH, Li YP, Men JH, Yu WT, Yang YX. Comparison of the dietary phytosterols intake and serum lipids content in elderly women from three cities of China. Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2009;43(12):1060-1063.
Jourdain C, Tenca G, Deguercy A, Troplin P, Poelman D. In-vitro effects of polyphenols from cocoa and beta-sitosterol on the growth of human prostate cancer and normal cells. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2006;15(4):353-361.

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsResourcesEvidence Based ResearchCancerfoods & cancer treatment


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia