Broccoli Shows Promise in Preventing a Specific Type of Cancer
Scientists are testing the cancer-preventing effects of a promising new treatment called green chemoprevention, which uses an extract of broccoli. This superfood might protect people from cancer of the throat, neck and head and mouth, according to a recent study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and collard greens contain high concentrations of a compound called sulforaphane. Earlier studies indicate it can help reverse the harmful effects of carcinogens in the environment. The recent research builds upon these findings, showing sulforaphane protected mice from oral cancer.
“People who are cured of head and neck cancer are still at very high risk for a second cancer in their mouth or throat, and, unfortunately, these second cancers are commonly fatal,” says lead author Dr. Julie Bauman, of the University of Pittsburgh. “So we’re developing a safe, natural molecule found in cruciferous vegetables to protect the oral lining where these cancers form.”
Safe, Natural Treatment Significantly Reduced Number of Tumors
The first part of the study evaluated the effects of broccoli sprout extract on mice that were predisposed to oral cancer. Reductions in both the incidence and number of tumors were observed.
In the second part of the experiment, scientists asked 10 human volunteers to drink fruit juice laced with broccoli sprout extract. The results showed protective changes in their mouths, suggesting the compound targeted tissue in this area. No adverse reactions were reported.
A clinical trial involving 40 people who have previously undergone treatment for head and neck cancer will follow. In this portion of the study, each participant will take a capsule of broccoli seed powder. If the findings are positive, larger scale trials will be conducted.
“The clear benefit of sulforaphane in preventing oral cancer in mice raises hope that this well-tolerated compound also may act to prevent oral cancer in humans who face chronic exposure to environmental pollutants and carcinogens,” notes researcher Professor Daniel Johnson.
Advantages of Green Chemoprevention Over Traditional Chemotherapy
“We call this ‘green chemoprevention,’ where simple seed preparations or plant extracts are used to prevent disease,” explains Dr. Bauman. “Green chemoprevention requires less money and fewer resources than a traditional pharmaceutical study, and could be more easily disseminated in developing countries where head and neck cancer is a significant problem.”
The advantages of green chemoprevention over chemotherapy are huge. Prevention of a deadly illness is always preferable to treating it after it develops. Furthermore, when you factor in that broccoli extract is less expensive than cancer-fighting drugs and it has none of the horrific side effects, the benefits of the natural treatment are colossal.