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Broccoli Compound May Slow Growth Of Breast Cancer Cells

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A study found that a broccoli compound can delay breast cancer cells' growth. The same compound is found in many cruciferous vegetables - including bok choy, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage - and is most effective during the cancer cells' early growth stages.

The highlighted compound is called sulforaphane, which has been linked to cancer prevention in previous studies. Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University and Oregon State University (OSU) found that it could also be useful in delaying the growth of cancer cells.

Professor Emily Ho from OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences explained that at first, they wanted to see if sulforaphane supplements could change epigenetic mechanisms linked in cancer and if these drugs can be tolerated well. The double-blind and placebo-controlled clinical trials involved 54 women who had irregular mammograms. They were either given a placebo or a sulforaphane supplement daily. The amount of sulforaphane was equivalent to approximately one cup of broccoli.

"This is very encouraging. Dietary approaches have traditionally been thought to be limited to cancer prevention, but this demonstrated it could help slow the growth of existing tumors," said lead study author Ho who is also OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences' Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health director.

Sulforaphane obstructs the enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs). Finding showed a decline in cancer cell growth markers. The trial results suggested that sulforaphane could delay the growth of cancer cells.

"There's significant evidence of the value of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention," added Ho. The obstruction improves tumor-suppressing genes, which are often inactive in cancer cells.

Sulforaphane could be included in the conventional methods of cancer therapies such as preventing the development of cancer, delaying the growth of cancer cells and avoiding relapse. The research team expressed that larger studies are needed to analyze responses to sulforaphane doses and examine the effects of other supplements or foods that contain the compound.

The study was published in the Cancer Prevention Research journal with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Photo: Steven Lilley | Flickr

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