Ask the Expert: Spirulina

The Physicians Committee

Ask the Expert: Spirulina

Q: How does consuming spirulina relate to cancer?

A: Some human studies have shown that spirulina (also called blue-algae) may help the immune system fight off cancer cells by increasing natural killer cells. NK cells target and kill cancer in the body as well as enhance the ability to fight off disease.

Spirulina contains a blue pigment called phycocyanin, which is an antioxidant and research has shown that it may provide a great deal of protection to both the liver and kidneys. Spirulina is overall rich in antioxidants (carotenoids, beta carotene, zeaxanthin and alpha carotene) and studies have also shown it may have antiproliferative effects (meaning that it can help prevent cancer cell growth and division).Spirulina is a good source of DHA and is 50% protein. Many seeweeds and algaes are great sources of B vitamins, minerals, and DHA.

Tomohiro H, Misako M, Kaoru H, et al. Activation of the human innate immune system by Spirulina: augmentation of interferon production and NK cytotoxicity by oral administration of hot water extract of Spirulina platensis. Int Immunopharmacol. 2002;2(4):423-434.

Wu LC, Ho JA, Shieh MC, Lu IW. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of Spirulina and Chlorella water extracts. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(10):4207-4212.