A new study has shown that broccoli, already known for its nutritional value and health benefits, has cancer-fighting properties. The study has suggested that a compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can slow down the growth of breast cancer cells, particularly in the early stages.
Researchers at Oregon State University and the Oregon Health and Science University conducted clinical trials to look at the effects of sulforaphane, a sulphur containing a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, on breast tissues of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was found that this compound has the potential to slow the growth of breast cancer cells, especially in the early stages. There has been previous evidence that sulforaphane might help prevent cancer. Also, high intake of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli has been linked to low risk of breast cancer.
The researchers carried out a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 54 women with abnormal mammograms who were scheduled for breast biopsy. They were given sulforaphane, the amount of one cup broccoli sprouts per day to consume. The researchers found that there was a decrease in histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity in them that, in turn, intensified the growth of tumour suppressor genes that slow down cell division.
Emily Ho, Professor at Oregon State University said, “Our original goal was to determine if sulforaphane supplements would be well tolerated and might alter some of the epigenetic mechanisms involved in cancer.”
She added “We were surprised to see a decrease in markers of cell growth, which means these compounds may help slow cancer cell growth. Dietary approaches have traditionally been thought to be limited to cancer prevention, but this demonstrated it could help slow the growth of existing tumours.”
Though the findings are impressive and encouraging, the researchers stated that additional studies would be needed to assess dose responses in larger populations. They also said that research would be needed to find out the effect of food or supplements containing sulforaphane on other relevant molecular targets.
The study has been published in the journal, Cancer Prevention Research.