Natural chemical in broccoli may fight breast cancer

September 14, 2004 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, Women's Health

Natural chemical in broccoli may fight breast cancer

Early research suggests a chemical found in this green vegetable may impede the spread of breast cancer cells.

Scientists found that the compound, called sulforaphane, hindered the growth of human breast cancer cells in the lab. It did so by apparently disrupting the action of protein 'microtubules' within the cells, which are vital for the success of cell division.

Past research has suggested a role for sulforaphane in preventing cancer, possibly due to its effects on detoxification enzymes that can defend against cancer-promoting substances. A study in rats showed that oral sulforaphane blocked the formation of breast tumors, and scientists have found that the chemical can push colon cancer cells to commit suicide.

This latest research suggests a new mechanism by which sulforaphane may bestow anti-cancer benefits.

What's intriguing about this finding, say the researchers, is that certain cancer drugs work in a similar manner. It's possible that sulforaphane, perhaps in combination with other compounds or drugs, could eventually aid in the prevention or treatment of cancer.

Whether a diet rich in broccoli and other sulforaphane-containing foods packs enough of the compound to lower cancer risk is unknown. Numerous studies in the general population have linked high vegetable and fruit intake to a lower risk of cancer, including breast cancer.

Much remains to be learned about the chemicals in plant foods, and scientists generally believe that it's important to get the full complement of nutrients and chemicals in these foods.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.