broccoli (Photo credit: wanko)
How Eating Broccoli Helps Prevent Cancer
Eat Your Broccoli, Cauliflower
and Kale To Help Prevent Cancer.
Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered a key factor for why the “sulforaphane“compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is
so good for you. It provides two ways to
prevent cancer through the complex
mechanism called epigenetics.
Epigenetics is an increasing focus of research around the world; It refers not only to our genetic code, but also to the way that diet, toxins and other elements can change which genes get activated.
This can play a significant role in everything
from cancer to heart disease and other major
Sulforaphane is one of the most important compounds that provide the health benefits in cruciferous vegetables; Scientists also knew that
a mechanism involved was histone deacetylases
also known as HDACs. This family of enzymes
can interfere with the normal function of genes
that suppress tumors. HDAC inhibitors, such as sulforaphane, has the ability to help restore proper balance and prevent the development of cancer.
It’s one of the most promising areas of cancer research today. The new Oregon State University studies have found a second epigenetic mechanism called DNA methylation, which plays a similar role.
Researchers explained this one-two punch is important to cell function and the control of cell division. When disrupted, it is a sign of cancer.
“Cancer is very complex and it’s usually not just one thing that has gone wrong,” the researchers said. “It’s increasingly clear that sulforaphane is a real multi-tasker. The more we find out about it,
the more benefits it appears to have.”
DNA methylation, they said, is a normal process
of turning off genes, and it helps control what
DNA material gets read as part of genetic communication within cells. In cancer that process gets mixed up. And of considerable interest to researchers is that these same disrupted processes appear to play a role in other
neuro-degenerative diseases, as well as cardiovascular disease, immune function
and the aging process.
The research was published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics; It primarily studied the effect on prostate cancer cells, but the same processes
are probably relevant to many other cancers
including colon and breast cancer.
“With these processes, the key is balance” the researchers said. “DNA methylation is a natural process, and when properly controlled is helpful.
But when the balance gets mixed up it can cause havoc, and that’s where the critical nutrients are involved. They help restore the balance.”
Sulforaphane is particularly abundant in broccoli and in other cruciferous vegetables such as kale and cauliflower . Laboratory and clinical studies have shown that higher intake of cruciferous vegetables can aid in cancer prevention.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the OSU Environmental Health Sciences Center.
Story Source: Oregon State University.
Journal Reference: Promoter de-methylation of cyclin D2 by sulforaphane in prostate cancer cells. Clinical Epigenetics, 2011
This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.