Graviola fruit

Amazon Herb With Potent Anti-Cancer Effects: Graviola

Article updated March 10, 2020

I have been reading some interesting research about a fruit tree from the Amazon rainforest known as graviola – also known as soursop or custard apple.

Graviola (Annona muricata) is being researched for its anti-cancer properties.  It has been shown to be especially effective against EGFR, an oncogene, and I describe what that is just below.

Even Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has an article about graviola in the Integrative Medicine section of their website – here’s a link to that article.

Graviola Has Lots of Preliminary Research

You will be happy to know that graviola is backed by some interesting research, although human trials are lacking.  One 2011 study [1] found that graviola fruit extract significantly downregulates EGFR gene expression and inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells in mice.  EGFR (that stands for epidermal growth factor receptor) is an oncogene – which is a gene that has the potential to cause a normal cell to become cancerous.  Those who have overexpression of EGFR are given a poorer prognosis because of resistance to some chemotherapy drugs.

Another 2011 animal study [2] found that annonacin from graviola induced growth arrest and apoptosis (planned cell death) in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells. When combined with tamoxifen, the duo further inhibited cancer cell survival and expression of breast cancer-related genes in mice.

A 2013 cell study [3] found that graviola extracts had anti cancer activity against prostate cancer and cervical cancer cells.

A 2012 animal study [4] done by American researchers found that graviola extracts were cytotoxic to pancreatic cancer cells in mice – they inhibited cancer cell metabolism, induced necrosis, and reduced the migratory capacity of cancer cells, all of which inhibited tumor growth and metastasis in pancreatic cancer cells. Since pancreatic cancer is one of the more deadly forms of cancer, this research seems promising.

A 2017 cell study [5] investigated the phytochemicals within graviola – known as acetogenins – and found that they had strong anti-proliferative (reduced the ability of a cancer cell to continue to multiply) activity against human prostate cancer cells.

Human Studies Lacking

We have loads of preliminary (cell and animal) studies on the anti cancer properties of graviola, but there still lacks any evidence that graviola can assist actual humans with cancer, outside of anecdotal evidence. People in African and South American cultures use graviola for cancer frequently.

A systematic review of graviola studies was published in 2015 [6] – which means that a group of experts gathered all the evidence about graviola and went through it to work out whether there is any evidence to support it. The reviewers said that several studies showed positive results in using graviola, but that there needs to be more robust and systematic clinical trials to test and confirm its value in cancer treatment, and to see if it is safe.

If you are considering taking graviola as an adjunct to other therapies, work with someone trained in herbal medicine. Graviola has been shown, if eaten in large quantities, to possibly cause problems for nerves and muscles, so be aware of that. If you are on blood pressure medication, you should also avoid it.


[1] Selective growth inhibition of human breast cancer cells by graviola fruit extract in vitro and in vivo involving downregulation of EGFR expression –

[2] Annonacin induces cell cycle-dependent growth arrest and apoptosis in estrogen receptor-a-related pathways in MCF-7 cells –

[3] Anti cancer activity on Graviola, an exciting medicinal plant extract vs various cancer cell lines and a detailed computational study on its potent anti-cancerous leads –

[4] Graviola: a novel promising natural-derived drug that inhibits tumorigenicity and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo through altering cell metabolism –

[5] Novel Annonaceous acetogenins from Graviola (Annona muricata) fruits with strong anti-proliferative activity –

[6] Graviola: A Systematic Review on Its Anticancer Properties –

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