Why broccoli could be the key to keeping cancer at bay
Researchers say compound found in vegetable can slow spread of tumors
It’s no secret that eating plenty of green vegetables is good for your health. But did you know that some veggies, like broccoli, could also hold the key to keeping cancer at bay?
A new study has found that broccoli contains high levels of a chemical compound that has the potential to stop cancer-friendly enzymes that mute tumor-fighting genes, according to the Harvard Gazette.
Researchers tested the compound on lab mice engineered to have prostate cancer. Sure enough, it worked as predicted and the mice’s cancer-fighting genes overpowered the tumors.
The research team is led by Pier Paolo Pandolfi, a Harvard Medical School professor who works out of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute in Boston.
“Forget what you think about the science, the fact that [we found] something that your grandma would say [is] good for you, it’s appealing,” Pandolfi told the Gazette.
Here’s how it works: when cancer strikes, its enzymes commonly target PTEN, a gene known for regulating cell growth and division. With that gene out of the picture, tumors can quickly grow out of control.
Enter broccoli – or, more specifically, indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C is a compound found in broccoli, cauliflower and kale, among other vegetables. It can latch onto the enzymes that allow cancer cells to spread and stop them in their tracks, the Gazette reports.
Still, fighting cancer isn’t as simple as scarfing down broccoli. To achieve the same results in humans that researchers saw with mice, someone would have to consume over six pounds of broccoli a day. But it's a start.
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