Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (such as arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, and kale) “contain a molecule that inactivates a gene known to play a role in a variety of common human cancers” although you can’t eat your way to cancer suppression.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center discovered that an enzyme which plays a role in many cancers “can be inhibited with a natural compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.” Their research is preliminary, focused on prostate cancer prone mice and human cells.
Although cruciferous vegetables have shown promising results in animal studies, the results with human research has been mixed.
Researchers point out that we would need have to eat nearly 6 pounds of uncooked Brussels sprouts every day, for example, to have the equivalent benefit.
“These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment,” said Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“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 Harvard Gazette.
The protective compound I3C (indole-3-carbinol) “seems to be well-tolerated by humans and is actually on the market based on anti-cancer properties exhibited in preliminary studies,” according to the Harvard Gazette.
There are more than 100 types of cancer. Currently, cancers are named based on where it starts in the body (breast, prostate, brain) even though there may be several different molecular structures.
The results are published in Science in a paper titled “Reactivation of PTEN tumor suppressor for cancer treatment through inhibition of a MYC-WWP1 inhibitory pathway.”