A unified Mie and fractal model for light scattering by biological cells is presented. This model is shown to provide an excellent global agreement with the angular dependent elastic light scattering spectroscopy of cells over the whole visible range and at all scattering angles investigated. Mie scattering from the bare cell and the nucleus is found to dominate light scattering in the forward directions, whereas the random fluctuation of the background refractive index within the cell, behaving as a fractal random continuous medium, is found to dominate light scattering at other angles. Angularly dependent elastic light scattering spectroscopy aided by the unified Mie and fractal model is demonstrated to be an effective noninvasive approach to characterize biological cells and their internal structures. The acetowhitening effect induced by applying acetic acid on epithelial cells is investigated as an example. The changes in morphology and refractive index of epithelial cells, nuclei, and subcellular structures after the application of acetic acid are successfully probed and quantified using the proposed approach. The unified Mie and fractal model may serve as the foundation for optical detection of precancerous and cancerous changes in biological cells and tissues based on light scattering techniques.