How cabbage, broccoli can help fight cancer?
• Compound ‘halts growth of colon, prostate cancer cells, makes treatment more effective’
CHILDREN and adults alike are encouraged to eat their greens, with five-a-day considered the dietary gold standard.
The list of benefits from eating fruit and vegetables is endless.But now, a team of scientists has added weight to the argument of making broccoli among your five-a-day.
They found a compound in the green vegetable not only helps prevent cancer, it can also help treat the disease.
Sulforaphane, which is also found in other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts, was found to inhibit the development of colon and prostate cancer cells.
The highest concentrations of the cancer-fighting compound are found in young sprouts of broccoli, in addition to a dietary supplement called broccoli sprout extract.The study was published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics.
Researchers from Texas A&M Health Science Center have concluded that the supplement can be used as a ‘field-to-client’ way to prevent – or even treat – colon cancer.
Broccoli sprout extract should not be used in lieu of traditional chemotherapy or radiation treatments, they warned.
Instead, the study shows the supplement can be used as an aid to help cancer drugs work more effectively – and prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.
Using the supplement appears to be ‘generally’ safe, researchers said.
It is known as the most common cancer-causing protein, and is directly responsible for 30 per cent of all cases.
Indirectly, it is involved in virtually all forms of the disease. For more than 30 years, scientists have failed to successfully target the protein, known as Ras.
But now, researchers at the University of Toronto have discovered a way to ‘switch off’ Ras, using an experimental drug. Their findings could prove to be a turning point in the fight against cancer.
Normally, Ras promotes cell growth. But the protein can also cause uncontrolled cell growth when mutated or deregulated.
As a result, it is a key player in many forms of cancer and is mutated in more than 90 per cent of pancreatic tumours – one of the deadliest forms of the disease.Professor Ohh and his team discovered another protein, called SHP2 was effective in turning off Ras.
The scientists were shocked to find the inhibitor drug reduced the tumours by more than 80 per cent.
“The inhibitors’ results were incredible — we were shocked,” said Professor Ohh. “Nothing has had the same effect.”
Dr. Praveen Rajendran of Texas A&M, a co-author of the study, said: “We have not seen any serious adverse events in healthy volunteers who consumed BSE pills for seven days.”
However, he added that not all broccoli supplements are necessarily as effective as the ones his team tested, since they used a standardized broccoli extract provided by Johns Hopkins University for the study.
“The BSE supplement is being evaluated in several other clinical trials around the country, but I’m not sure other, similar supplements available to the public have the same level of active ingredients, including sulforaphone,” Dr. Rajendran said.
A separate clinical study of 28 human volunteers over the age of 50 – each of whom were undergoing routine colonoscopies – were surveyed for their cruciferous vegetable-eating habits.
After their colon biopsies were examined, it was determined that those who ate more servings had higher levels of expression of the tumor suppressor gene p16.
The same effect held true for people who didn’t eat those vegetables every single day – even though a single serving of sulforaphane is typically cleared from the body in less than 24 hours.
Therefore, researchers determined that eating vegetables that contain sulforaphane can actually change people’s genes to make their body better able to prevent tumor growth.
In animal models, however, sulforaphane was determined to generally inhibit the development of colon cancer – while also inducing a protein called Nrf2.
The protein has beneficial antioxidant and detoxifying effects – which makes it good for fighting cancer.
But later in the development of cancer, Nrf2 is thought to play a role in tumor growth and even enhance the buildup of plaque in arteries.
“Because of all this, we believe that Nrf2 status is worthy of further investigation, not just for cancer treatment but for its role in modulating cardiovascular disease,” Rajendran said.
Researchers said their study has shown that sulforaphane can prevent cancer, but that they aren’t ready to recommend that everyone take a broccoli sprout extract yet.