I was reading this article touting the benefits of celery for “fighting off pancreatic cancer” and naturally I wondered about the veracity of this news. I managed to get my hands (well, eyes) on a copy of the research on which the news article was based. It seems that very little of the news article was based on the actual research.
The study looked at the effect of two flavonoids: Apigenin (Api) and Luteolin (Lut) on the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells in petri-dishes. While the news article states that eating plenty of celery can prevent cancer, the authors were examining the effects of the flavonoids on existing cancer cells so there’s not really cause to say that eating foods containing these substances will actually prevent cancer (although, eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is certainly advisable to obtain many health benefits). That being said, the authors found that both Api and Lut inhibited growth and proliferation of tumor cells. The greatest benefit was seen when the flavonoids were administered to the cancer cells 24 hours prior to treatment with a chemotherapy. When the flavonoids were administered at the same time as the chemotherapy there was actually a decrease in effectiveness of the treatments.
The authors do not mention celery until the very end of the journal article. In the conclusion they state that:
Api is abundantly present in oranges, grapefruit, parsley,
onions, wheat sprouts and chamomile tea.
Rich sources of Lut include apple skins, parsley, celery, broccoli, onion leaves, carrots, peppers, cabbages and chrysanthemum
It’s hard to say how much celery (or other fruits and vegetables) you would have to eat to get an effective dose of Luteolin.
While this research does provide some hope that there may be cancer-fighting properties to every-day vegetables and fruits it doesn’t mean that you should run out and eat bushels of celery to ward-off pancreatic cancer. For now, eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits every day and try to consume a wide variety.