soursop on tree

Benefits of Soursop, Guanabana For Cancer Are Dangerous

[toc]What is guanabana in English? Soursop. That doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? Well it’s actually delicious.

Whether you say the Spanish name, the Brazilian Portuguese (graviola), or the English translation… they’re all referencing the exact same fruit.

Chances are though if you live in the United States, you haven’t heard any of those names before.

Don’t expect to find it for sale at Walmart. Not even grocers with an organic emphasis like Whole Foods sell it. Where you can buy soursop in the US is often limited to Asian and Latin grocers in major cities like Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston. Those aside, you probably have never seen it for sale in the US.

But in Central and South America, it’s a popular fruit. Likewise for some African countries like Nigeria and a number of Southeast Asian countries.

In the Philippines they call it yet another name; guyabano. In addition to using the raw pulp in recipes, making herbal tea with the leaves is a popular beverage.

You can eat the fresh white pulp inside, or the nectar can be turned into juice, punch, and desserts like ice cream. There are many culinary uses.

Whatever form you fancy, what are the health benefits of guanabana? We will go over all of them but first let’s address the elephant in the room.

Lately, there’s been a lot of controversy about it allegedly being good for cancer. One major nutritional website claims it’s what big pharma “doesn’t want you to know about” and a herbal remedy website implies there is “strong evidence” it may be an alternative treatment. Some of these natural news bloggers cite purported cancer cure testimonials as part of their pitch.

Similar to reishi mushrooms and cancer, a lot of people out there are taking very preliminary research, then extrapolating (and exaggerating) it to mean something it doesn’t.

We will review the guanabana cancer research below, but first we think it’s important to be crystal clear and nip in the bud the wild (and dangerous) exaggerations which some alternative medicine folks are perpetrating about this fruit.

Yes, there is preliminary research suggesting it demonstrates anticarcinogenic properties in laboratory experiments. But human data is lacking and only one clinical trial in Indonesia has been conducted…

clinical trial of guanabana for colorectal cancer

The trial was completed in October 2014. Two years later and still no results have yet been posted on for it (1).

Before you shout conspiracy, it’s actually not that unusual for a lot of time to pass between finishing a trial and posting results. Especially if things didn’t go as planned or the results were disappointing.

Petri dish test experimentActually when pharma is developing a drug, if it does poorly in a clinical trial and they can see it’s a flop, sometimes they will never publish the results in hopes of sweeping it under the rug, rather than being forced to call it for what it is… a failure.

Trust us, if guanabana juice or leaf extract can cure cancer or even can mildly improve it, the pharmaceutical industry is incentivized to commercialize it and make money selling drugs made out of whatever the active compounds are, if they exist and work in the human body (working in a Petri dish is not the same thing).

No one – not even big pharma – is helped by hiding cancer treatments. The alternative medicine bloggers alleging there’s some kind of cover-up conspiracy going on are flat out wrong.

And by the way, it’s unlikely there ever will be “a” cure for cancer, given that there are hundreds of different ways it can manifest itself. If we are ever able to cure the disease, it will likely require a plethora of different cures. Different ones for different types.

To understand why, watch the Ken Burns documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, which is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.

We will come back to the cancer killing controversy below. First, let’s go over the soursop benefits which are non-controversial.

What does guanabana taste like?

You don’t eat the green skin, nor the black seeds inside. Only the white flesh.

Don’t be misled by its English name, soursop. Does it taste sour? Yes, but it’s balanced with plenty of sweetness.

guanabana fruit, sliced in half showing sizeThe flavor has been compared to a combination of tropical fruits. Some liken its musky taste to that of a pineapple and banana combined. Others say the soursop flavor is closer to pineapple plus strawberry. What you never hear is it being described as sour in the same way as a lemon, lime or grapefruit.

Its texture reminds people of a banana or coconut creaminess. That’s why guanabana nectar is often used for dessert recipes including ice cream, sorbet, and smoothies.

What does soursop tea taste like? Like many teas, the flavor by itself is not very appealing. But if you add some lime juice and a sweetener such as honey or natural stevia, it won’t taste bad. Many actually enjoy it.

In short, most people say the fresh fruit and juice both taste good.

How big is the soursop fruit? That too is not easy to describe. Unlike many fruits which have regular or consistent dimensions, the size of a fruit can range in measurement from a few inches to as long as a foot (2). That’s for its longest dimension, since it’s an oval shape, the width will be around half that.

Guanabana nutrition facts

Serving Size: 1 cup of pulp (225 grams/8 ounces)
Calories 148
Calories From Fat 6
% Daily Value* % Daily Value
Total Fat 0.7 g 1% Vitamin A 0%
Sodium 32 mg 1% Vitamin C 77%
Potassium 626 mg 17% Calcium 3%
Total Carbs. 38 g 12% Iron 7%
Fiber 7 g 28% Vitamin B6 5%
Sugar 30 g Magnesium 11%
Protein 2.3 g 4%
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28

As you see, the biggest health advantage is its vitamin C content. The 30 grams of sugar is somewhat high, but the fiber content should help offset some of the glycemic side effect, by slowing down the rate at which the sugar is absorbed. Regardless, it may be a bad choice for you if you have diabetes.


You have a lot of natural remedy folks embellishing this advantage.

There are so-called health websites right now claiming guanabanas are “extremely rich in antioxidants” but offer no quantitative data to substantiate that claim. How do they even decide if a fruit is “rich” or not?

They don’t. Instead they just spout nonsense to fill up a page.

Let’s actually look at the numbers which measure exactly how much antioxidant activity soursop has and then compare.

Based on the most accurate way to measure this – ORAC values – here’s how this fruit compares to a random sampling of 10 things, ranging from low to high.

antioxidant-rich berriesPineapple = 385
Carrots (raw) = 697
Romaine lettuce = 1,017
Chocolate chip cookie = 1,290
Soursop = 1,451
Granny Smith apple = 3,898
Artichokes (boiled) = 9,416
Pecans = 17,940
Acai berry powder = 102,700
Sumac bran = 312,400
Astaxanthin = 2,822,200

All readings were calculated using a 100 gram samples of each item. Those are just a few examples from our ORAC values database of nearly 500 different entries.

We haven’t found an ORAC measurement for graviola tea, which is made with leaves.

Upon looking at the ORAC for the raw fruit, do you think it’s a fair assessment to say that guanabana is “extremely rich” in antioxidants? Or do you think because of its antioxidant content, it’s good for cancer treatment?

Both of those purported benefits which others are claiming fall flat on their face.

Antioxidants – no matter how little or “rich” they are – will have absolutely zero effect on cancer cells.

DNA mutation graphicThe reason antioxidants are believed to be healthy is because of the hypothesis that they might help reduce DNA damage which it is caused by oxidative stress in the body.

While totally unproven, in theory antioxidants might help prevent some instances of cancers when they are caused by a cell mutation that resulted from oxidative stress. But again, that’s hypothetical and unproven.

Either way, after a cell mutation happens, antioxidants have zero effect on it.

That means that after a tumor forms, it’s impossible for antioxidants to help it. People who claim this (or any other fruit) helps fight cancer with antioxidants are 100% wrong.

Despite the bucket of cold water we just poured on this topic, antioxidants are still a nutritional benefit of soursop.

Is it an impressive amount? By no means. Tropical fruits tend to contain very little antioxidants relative to their neighbors grown in colder climates.

However relative to a number of other tropical fruits including pineapple, papaya, dragon fruit/pitaya, and mangoes, yes you can accurately claim that soursop is a “rich” source (just look at its vitamin C). But that’s about as far as you can stretch that claimed advantage.

Graviola cancer treatment research

Graviola, which is the Brazilian Portuguese name for the fruit, seems to be the word of choice when discussing it as a “cure” or treatment.

But graviola is used in the culinary sense, too. This is why the only way to cover all the research is to search for the scientific name; Annona muricata.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) runs PubMed, which compiles medical literature citations – over 27 million entries are listed for anyone to review. If it is legit research, you will almost certainly find it in this database.

Annona muricata and cancer produce the following results…

cancer research results listed on PubMed

There are a total of 35 entries dating back as early as 1996.

You may have seen the claim that guanabana is better than chemotherapy by 10,000 times. That rumor is based on the earliest study :

1996 – Compounds in leaf compared to adriamycin

fresh raw guanabana leaves
soursop leaves

Title: Five novel mono-tetrahydrofuran ring acetogenins from the seeds of Annona muricata

Location: Purdue University, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy

Acetogenins are a class of compounds onliy found in the Annonaceae plant family (which includes graviola).

The study discussed 5 compounds which were identified in the fruit and among those, the following was said about cis-annonacin-10-one:

“…was selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells (HT-29) in which it was 10,000 times the potency of adriamycin.”

HT-29 is a line of colon cancer cells used for research since 1964. It came from a 44 year old woman (3) (4).

Adriamycin or Rubex are brand names (among others) for the compound doxorubicin, which is a chemotherapy medicine first approved by the FDA over 40 years ago (1974). While it is an old drug, many variations of it have been developed over the years and it remains one of the most important cancer medications in use today.

What some of those naturopathic websites fail to tell you is this…

(1) These were laboratory experiments using cultured human cells. Think Petri dishes and test tubes. This was not a test involving humans.

(2) “10,000 times the potency” does NOT mean 10,000 more effective. The only thing it means is that in that particular laboratory experiment, the cytotoxicity (destruction of cancer cells) was the same with graviola but at a concentration which was 10,000 times lower than Adriamycin.

What happens in a Petri dish is not always what happens in the human body.

If you were to follow this same alternative medicine gospel, then based on the exact same logic, you would stop eating avocados. Why? Because in vitro (a Petri dish experiment), avocado extract was found to mutate human blood cells…

DNA damage after avocado treatment

Are avocados good for you if they cause DNA mutations in a Petri dish, as seen above?

Remember, cancer is caused by a cell mutation gone wild.

However, just because something is seen in a Petri dish, it doesn’t mean it works the same way after digestion or injection of the food.

Think about it… you could put cancer cells in a Petri dish and dump a chemical like bleach on them and guess what? The bleach would probably kill them.

But obviously, that does not mean bleach would be effective or useful in the human body as a cancer treatment!

Plus, no one knows if guanabana leaf or fruit extract would even be safe as a treatment, if it was found to work and be effective. Whether it would be safe during pregnancy is yet another unknown.

There are two studies totally unrelated to this disease from 2002 and 2007 which had suggested high consumption of the fruit “induced neurodegeneration of basal ganglia” in the brains of rats. So it might actually have neurotoxic properties if consumed in excess (5) (6).

That first study comparing graviola and Adriamycin was from over 20 years ago. Here’s a look at all of the cancer research which has been published since then on PubMed.

1998 – Same authors as ‘96 study

Two compounds isolated from graviola leaves were said to be toxic to 6 human cancerous cell lines in laboratory experiments. Among them were prostate and pancreatic cancer cells. The compounds were muricoreacin and murihexocin C. (different ones from the ’96 study) (7).

2001 – Liver cancer cells

Conducted at a university in Taiwan, 7 new compounds (muricins A-G) and five previously known were used to demonstrate toxicity in lab experiments against human hepatoma (liver cancer) cell lines Hep G(2) and 2,2,15.

The compounds were isolated from guanabana seeds (8).

2002 & 2003 – Same authors as ’01 study

These two studies addressed additional compounds isolated from the seeds, which were said to show similar toxicity towards liver cancer cells (9) (10).

2010 – A look at 14 different plants

Yes, it took 7 years until another relevant paper was published. This was not specific to graviola, but rather it looked at 14 species of plants (11).

Title: Antiproliferative Activity, Antioxidant Capacity and Tannin Content in Plants of Semi-Arid Northeastern Brazil
Location: Biology Department, Pernambuco Federal University, Brazil

As you can see from the title, cancer (antiproliferative activity) was only 1 of 3 different things they were evaluating in their lab experiments.

The cell lines tested were:

  • HEp-2 (laryngeal cancer)
  • NCI-H292 (lung cancer)

At the end of the experiment, the percentage of living diseased cells in the graviola extract was lower than the other plants tested, but as you see below it was almost the same performance as Lantana camara, which is a flowering plant known as big sage, wild-sage, or tickberry depending on the part of the world you live.

Species Common Names Parts Tested Living HEp-2 Cancer Cells (%) Living NCI-H292 Cancer Cells (%)
Annona muricata guanabana, graviola, soursop, guyabano tree/leaves 54.92 ± 1.44 24.94 ± 0.74
Ageratum conyzoides billygoat-weed,chick weed, goatweed, whiteweed herb/aerial parts 81.45 ± 0.85 105.14 ± 3.34
Delilia biflora none herb/aerial parts 58.19 ± 2.49 77.37 ± 1.05
Handroanthus impetiginosus pink ipê, pink lapacho, pink trumpet tree tree/leaves 45.73 ± 2.19 41.8 ± 0.47
Cyperus distans slender cyperus herb/aerial parts 132.09 ± 7.99 102.03 ± 1.71
Slender cyperus none shrub/leaves 103.56 ± 3.88 94.29 ± 3.96
Jatropha mollissima pohl shrub/leaves 142.06 ± 5.06 88.32 ± 0.3
Amburana cearensis ambaúrana, baru, cabocla, cumaru, ishpingo tree/leaves 94.58 ± 4.31 103.74 ± 1.32
Anadenanthera colubrina vilca, huilco, huilca, wilco, willka, cebil, angico tree/leaves 117.32 ± 1.76 97.24 ± 0.89
Poincianella pyramidalis none tree/leaves 90.97 ± 0.94 105.46 ± 0.97
Crotalaria incana fuzzy rattlepods, kukaehik, rattlebox shrub/leaves 115.39 ± 2.06 102.73 ± 2.23
Senna occidentalis septicweed, coffee senna, coffeeweed shrub/leaves 103.37 ± 1.61 99.42 ± 0.77
Mentzelia aspera tropical blazingstar herb/aerial parts 45.61 ± 1.94 86.04 ± 0.35
Lantana camara big-sage, wild-sage, red-sage, white-sage, tickberry shrub/leaves 55.98 ± 0.74 25.08 ± 0.19

The theory of using guanabana for cancer looks less special when you compare it to Lantana camara, which has about the same kill rates in vitro.

2011 – Fungus from graviola plant

The fungus periconia, which was found growing on the plant, and two natural compounds isolated from it were tested against 6 human tumor cell lines.

It was said they “showed low cytotoxic activities” against the tumor cells. In other words, they did not seem to work well (12).

2011 – Dietary advice for Nigerian men

Published by a researcher at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, this paper was simply a laundry list of different foods – ranging from chili pepper to tomatoes – which might reduce prostate cancer among African males. It was an opinion piece, not an experiment (13).

2012 – Side effects on normal cells

cytotoxicity chart
Measured toxicity of the leaf extract in different concentrations. WRL-68 = normal liver cells, HaCaT = normal skin cells, MDA-MB-435S = breast cancer cells.

Conducted at a school in India, the leaf extract of soursop was tested against normal liver cells, normal skin cells (human immortalized keratinocyte cells) and cancerous breast cells (14).

They said “most of the observed chemo-preventive potential invariably correlated with the amount of total phenolics present in the extract” but do keep in mind correlation does not mean causation.

As far as how the graviola safety measured up in the experiments, this chart shows how while it showed toxicity against the carcinoma cells, look at the similar effects it had on healthy liver and skin cells.

“…the extract was moderately cytotoxic to normal cells… when compared with those obtained for cancerous cells”

So it was still “moderately toxic” even to the tested healthy cells.

2012 – First animal study

Up until this point, all tests were experiments involving cell cultures. This appears to be the first involving animals; mice (15).

Conducted at a university in Malaysia, they evaluated what happened when the leaf extract was applied topically to a chemically-created papilloma, which is a small benign tumor (such as a wart). The results were:

“In overall, the ethanolic extract A. muricata L. leaves exhibited chemo preventive potential towards skin tumor growth in DMBA/croton oil induced papillomagenesis even at low dosage (30mg/kg). Nevertheless, additional study is required to elucidate the exact anti-cancer mechanism underlying this prevention effect.”

2012 – Pancreatic cancer cells

Done at the University of Nebraska, this is another laboratory study which sought to understand the mechanisms which might be responsible for graviola inhibiting pancreatic cancerous cell growth (16).

2013 – More cell lines test

Researchers at a university in India further studied the acetogenins found in the plant. These are the compounds which are believed to be “potent inhibitors of NADH oxidase of the plasma membranes of cancer cells.” This only involved lab experiments, no animals were used (17).

2014 – Prostate cancer cells

Researchers at Wayne State University in Michigan studied the effects against PC-3 prostate cell lines in lab experiments (18).

2014 – Lung cancer cells

Experiments against A549 lung carinoma, done at a university in Malaysia (19).

They claim their data was the first to show that it inhibited this type of cancer. They claimed it was due to the “activation of the mitochondrial-mediated signaling pathway with the involvement of the NF-kB signalling pathway.”

You’re not expected to understand that, but there’s not really a plain English way to describe it.

2014 – Colon cancer cells

Same Malaysian researchers, but this time they were looking at colon (HCT-116 and HT-29 lines) (20). In their tests, they claimed the soursop leaf extract had:

“exerted significant cytotoxic effects”

But after saying that, they emphasized it should not be considered a natural cure by saying “further in vivo studies [meaning inside a body] are still required” before it could be contemplated as a possible treatment for cancer.

2014 – Leukemia cells

Conducted in the West Africa country of Cameroon, this was testing with HL-60 (Human promyelocytic leukemia cells). Different parts of the plant were tested against them.

All plant parts were said to show “strong antiproliferation potential” of varying degrees (21).

2015 – Rat study involving leaf extract

chart of annomuricin E on colon cancer cells
Effects of the compound annomuricin E at different concentration on LDH leakage formation in HT-29 colon cancer cells.

Conducted at the same Malaysian university as the earlier studies, this appeared to be the most extensive relative to all which came before it – not just from this university, but among all the studies which had been published up to this point (22).

It’s the second animal study, this time involving rats and the HT-29 line of colon cancer. The rats were broken up into 5 groups:

  • negative control group
  • cancer control group
  • group receiving 250 mg per kg of body weight
  • group receiving 500 mg per kg of body weight
  • positive control group (5-fluorouracil)

The paper was well-written and included a number of graphs, charts, and photos of the tumors before and after.

They zeroed in on the compound annomuricin E as possibly being responsible for the purported anti-cancer benefit of guanabana leaves.

“This acetogenin suppressed the proliferation of HT-29 cells selectively and induced apoptosis that was associated with G1 cell cycle arrest and mitochondria-mediated pathways.”

Again, how it works is not easy to dumb down.

2015 – Human BPH cells and rat prostate

albino lab ratBPH = Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Research by the University of Ghana looked at the antiproliferative effects of the leaf extract on human BPH-1 cell cultures (23).

Additionally, 30 male rats were fed the extract for 60 days and then killed to be examined. There were 10 control rats who were on a normal diet for comparison.

Those receiving the leaf extract were said to have a reduced prostate size “possibly through apoptosis.”

2015 – Prostate cancer in mice

Researchers from several universities took part in this study, which evaluated not just the purported anti-cancer compounds in graviola leaf extract, but also compared them to the flavonoid compounds (phenolic substances) and whether there may be a synergistic effect of both working together (24).

Human prostate tumor grafts were implanted into mice and then studied.

Regarding what are believed to be the beneficial compounds (acetogenin-enriched fractions), this was said:

“…despite its superior in vitro and in vivo efficacy, resulted in death of the mice due to toxicity.”

But in the mice receiving the graviola leaf extract which still had the flavonoids intact, this was said:

“On the other hand, GLE [graviola leaf extract] treatment resulted in remarkable tumor growth inhibition with no signs of toxicity at the end of 4 weeks.”

Is guanabana safe to eat as a food in moderate/normal serving sizes? Yes.

However this study suggests that even if it might help cancer, there appears to be a toxic side effect of some compounds in the fruit, the same ones which are believed to possibly be beneficial for the disease.

This study just goes to reiterate why it is dangerous for people to use this as a treatment. Aside from not knowing if it works and not being studied in humans, we don’t even know if high dosages of those compounds are safe.

2015 – Skin cancer cells

Indian researchers did lab experiments to measure extracts of graviola leaves against SCC-25 squamous cell carcinoma cultures (a type of the skin). The extract was said to show “significant cytotoxic activity” at the G2M phase cell cycle (25).

2016 – MCF-7 breast cells

In Petri dish experiments done at an Indian university, the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line was said to be inhibited by 98% from the leaf extract. The key molecules believed to be the cause were coronin and annonaine (26).

2016 – Liver cancer cells

HepG2 liver cell cultures were used by Chinese researchers to try and identify the molecular mechanisms of guanabana. The conclusion was (27):

“…causes apoptosis of liver cancer cells through ER stress pathway, which supports the ethnomedicinal use of this herb as an alternative or complementary therapy for cancer”

2016 – Various types of breast cancer

MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, and 4 T1 cell lines were tested using the extract of graviola leaf which came from different locations. Presumably all from Malaysia, as this study was done at a university there (28).

Out of the 19 leaf samples collected, they used what tested as being the most potent (B1 AMCE is what they called it in the study). Based on the lab experiments, they claimed:

“The selected B1 AMCE reduced the tumor’s size and weight, showed anti-metastatic features, and induced apoptosis in reduced the tumor’s size and weight, showed anti-metastatic features, and induced apoptosis in vitro and in vivo of the 4 T1 cells. Furthermore, it decreased the level of nitric oxide and malondialdehyde in tumor while also increased the level of white blood cell, T-cell, and natural killer cell population.”

2016 – Prostate cancer cells

Researchers at Wayne State University identified 3 more novel compounds from graviola fruit which they claim demonstrated anti-proliferative activity against PC-3 prostate carcinoma cells.

If you’re curious, the compounds identified were C-35 annonaceous acetogenins (muricins M and N) and C-37 annonaceous acetogenins (muricenin) (29).

2016 – 11 plants compared

Researchers from German and Camaroonian universities tested extracts from 11 different “medicinal plants” against leukemia cells (30).

The results? Extracts from the following 5 plants were said to be active against leukemia CEM/ADR5000 cells:

  • Alchornea floribunda
  • Annona muricata (soursop fruit)
  • Euphorbia prostate
  • Pachypodanthium staudtii
  • Passiflora edulis

All 5 were inferred as being worthy of further exploration, but Annona muricata (soursop) and Passiflora edulis (passion fruit) were the two called out specifically as “good cytotoxic plants.”

2016 – “Functional foods” used by patients

The University of the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago) conducted a survey among cancer patients to find out if they took any purported herbal remedies/functional foods. Among the 150 who reported doing so, 80.7% reported using soursop leaves, bark, fruit and seeds. (31)

2016 – Antimicrobial efficacy on oral pathogens

These were lab tests checking the plants antibacterial effects against oral pathogens like Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and others. It was unrelated to cancer but shows up in the results since they mention what it’s most known for. (32).

2017 – Opinion paper on Annona species

Three authors from Italy and China discuss the antitumor potential of Annona species (Annonaceae) which includes more than one plant. They call them “one of the most promising” but emphasize “their neurotoxicity should not be underestimated.” (33)

2017 – Caspase-3 activity in leaf extract

These Indonesian scientists used a colorectal cancer cell line (COLO-205). Based on their lab experiments, they reported…

“…had a higher value of caspase-3 activity than leucovorin and placebo in the COLO-205 colorectal cancer cell line.”

leaf extract vs. leucovorin on colorectal cells

More of the COLO-205 cancer cells died when exposed to the leaf extracts versus the fluorouracil. (34)

2017 – The first human study

Also out of Indonesia, this study shared two of the scientists from the Caspase-3 research that was just discussed.

This was a small randomized controlled trial and here’s how it worked:

  • 30 patients who had “undergone primary tumor resection” of colorectal cancer participated
  • 14 received a placebo
  • 14 received a soursop leaf extract
  • Each group took these daily for 8 weeks
  • 28 patients completed the trial

There appeared to be higher cytotoxicity in the supplemented group versus the placebo. This was based on blood samples taken at the end of the trial, which were then used in the lab to grow cancer cells (COLO 205 and DLD-1 cell lines). (35)

2017 – Survey of Jamaican patients

From University of the West Indies, this is similar to their survey from 2016.

In this one, they gave 100 patients a questionnaire and out of those, 80% reported “self-medicating practices” with alleged medicinal plants, which included graviola. Yet only 15% told their oncologists they were using these plants. This problem was most prevalent among the breast and prostate cancer patients. (36)

2017 – Tests using fungi from leaves

Endophytic fungi were isolated from soursop leaf. Next, these fungi were evaluated on MCF-7 breast cancer cells in the lab. 4 out of the 12 isolates “showed high activity” against the growth of the MCF-7 cells. (37)

2017 – Skin tumors on mice

Malaysian scientists made leaf extracts using different solutions (these are called fractions). Next, they tested them on the skin tumors of mice.

“The results of the study revealed significant inhibition in tumor incidence, tumor burden and tumor volume in the groups received AMLH [hexane fraction] and AMLD [dichloromethane fraction], respectively, and suppressive effects in group received AMLM [methanol] compared with carcinogen control group at week 21.”

They cited the plant’s free radical-scavenging activity and annonacin content as what was believed to be responsible for what they described as “antitumor-promoting activity.” (38)

2017 – Gene research related to lung and prostate

In lung and prostate cancer patients, an absence or under-regulation of the dice-1 gene has been observed.

Using a related model of mutant nematodes/roundworms (C. elegans), these Columbian researchers wanted to see what happened when they were exposed to ethanol extract of the leaf.

The soursop extract did not have positive effects and had a possible neurotoxic side effect when used in concentrations of 5mg/ml or greater. (39)

2017 – Systematic review

Researchers at Pan African University (Kenya) wrote this systematic review of the history and future prospects. The last sentence of their abstract summarizes it as:

“The reported toxicity notwithstanding, A. muricata extracts seem to be some of the safest and promising therapeutic agents of the 21st century and beyond that need to be studied further for better medicinal formulations and diseases management.”

Notice the “need to be studied further” part, as their opinion is preliminary. (40)

Does guanabana cure cancer?

woman on last chemotherapy day
By Sgerbic [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
That is a review of all 35 studies/papers listed in PubMed. As you see, it’s almost entirely test tube-like experimentation.

There have only been a couple animal studies done using rodents and only one study on humans published.

That human study didn’t even evaluate the effect in their bodies. They took blood samples after the patients had used the leaf. Those samples were tested in the lab using cultured cells. So really, it was something between a human and lab study. They were NOT monitoring whether it helped the humans or not.

To call soursop fruit the cancer killer, as some are saying, is not only misleading, but you could even call it a hoax because that’s beyond an exaggeration.

Yes, there is exciting research being conducted, but as we pointed out at the start, often times what works in a Petri dish is not the same as the biological activity which occurs in a living, breathing human being.

No, guanabana does not cure cancer.

There is nowhere near sufficient evidence to justify such a claim. There are no human clinical trials published and even the number of rodent studies is quite disappointing to date.

Sure, research will continue and perhaps someday, the answer may be different. But as of now, there is not proof that soursop works for cancer.

Cancer Research UK, which is that country’s largest non-profit pursuing a cure, says this on their website:

“Overall, there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer.”

Anyone claiming otherwise is exaggerating or outright lying. That’s dangerous, as when you have this terrible disease, it’s no time to fool around. You need real proven medical treatments.

What is guanabana good for?

brewed tea in cupYou can enjoy using organic soursop as a food or drink because it is a delicious and exotic ingredient.

It should NOT be used for any disease.

The creamy pulp of the fruit is packed with vitamin C and fiber, making it a much healthier treat versus a processed dessert.

Canned guanabana juice will have limited health benefits. Being liquefied, the sugar will hit your bloodstream faster, which is not good for diabetics (or anyone, frankly). Since the nectar is pasteurized, the naturally occurring vitamin C content will have been largely – if not entirely – destroyed. What effect pasteurization has on the fruit’s phytonutrients is unknown.

Given the somewhat high sugar content of the pulp, eating it daily may not be good for you.

Perhaps the best use of the plant – at least for regular consumption – is using the leaves for making a herbal tea. With sweetener and lemon or lime juice, it tastes good.

Like the fruit, the leaves contain a fair amount of antioxidant content. Although it’s practically unheard of in the US, guyabano leaf tea (the Filipino word for the fruit) is quite popular in that part of the world.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.