In traditional medicine, healers have claimed the leaves of the moringa tree can inhibit tumor growth, maintain prostate health, and contribute to cancer prevention and therapy, including protection against the injurious effects of radiation. With recent interest in exploring the anti-cancer potential of natural products, numerous studies have taken place that determine overall effectiveness of Moringa oleifera in preventing and addressing certain types of cancer. Findings suggest that leaf extract from Moringa oleifera has a strong effect on halting proliferation of human cancer cells and inducing cell death. And as chemotherapy induces severe adverse side effects, naturally occurring anticancer compounds from plants that are minimally toxic and highly potent can be valuable to chemotherapy and chemoprevention. Thus, moringa leaves have potential for and can be integrated as a therapeutic target for cancer (Sreelatha 2011).

Western medicine has taken it upon itself to use crude extracts and isolated compounds of the moringa leaf to prove what traditional practice has long suggested – that cancer prevention and therapy may be achievable with native plants.

Several components of moringa have been reported to perform anticancer and antibacterial activities. In a study by Jung (2014), leaf extract of moringa was shown to inhibit cancerous cell proliferation (see photo). Jung2014

In addition, normal cells appeared to be more resistant to the extract, and less cell death occurred in healthy cells. Less cytotoxicity in normal cells than in cancer cells means moringa oleifera extract is a good candidate for anticancer therapy as it has fewer effects than the current standard of chemotherapy that is overtly toxic -both to cancerous and healthy cells, often resulting in adverse side effects like nausea, hair loss, anemia and infertility.

 

The use of Moringa oleifera leaf extract on human cancerous cells not only showed a significant inhibitory effect on the proliferation of cancerous cells, it was comparable to the effects of Cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug. Similar to Cisplatin, human cancer cells treated with moringa undergo changes in morphology as well as fragmentation of DNA and an increase in reactive oxygen species, signifying successful cell death (Sreelatha et al. 2011).

Research has found Moringa oleifera effective against the following types of cancer cells (Frank 2013):

Melanoma Moringa leaf extract can induce protein levels in certain melanoma cells, reducing their proliferation
Cervical cancer Moringa oleifera leaf extract reduces proliferation and viability of cervical cancer cells
Ovarian cancer A molecule found in moringa, Benzyl isothiocyanate, induces cell death of cancerous cells in the ovaries, indicating moringa could act as a potential treatment in this type of cancer (Kalkunte et al. 2006, Bose 2007)
Pancreatic cancer Berkovich et al. (2013) showed that Moringa Oleifera leaf extract can increase the efficacy of chemotherapy and significantly inhibit the growth of cultured human pancreatic carcinoma cells
Colon cancer In a rat model of chemical induced colon carcinogenesis, oral ingestion of the PODS of moringa oleifera at resulted in a dose-dependent reduction in colon tumors by 47% to 71% due to the anti inflammatory properties of moringa.
Lung cancer M. oleifera leaf extract was able to prevent, inhibit and halt the development of tumors in cancerous lung cells (Jung 2014). And Tiloke et al. (2013) have also shown that an aqueous extract of M. oleifera leaves exhibited antiproliferative activity against cancerous human lung cells.