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Cruciferous vegetable compound could make cancer radiation therapy safer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Cancer can strike us at any age. A known risk factor is aging that can't be changed. Now scientists are tapping into the power of humble cruciferous vegetable compounds like broccoli and cauliflower to protect patients from the ill effects of cancer radiation treatment.

According to a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center discovered that the cruciferous vegetable-derived compound known as ‘DIM’ — 3,3'-diindolylmethane — protects rodents from lethal doses of radiation that snap pieces DNA to destroy cancer.

The problem is radiation therapy for cancer can also damage DNA in healthy cells. It can also cause cancer along with other problems, especially later in life for children needing life-saving radiation cancer treatment.

Cruciferous vegetables have been suggested to prevent cancer and are often recommended for women for thwarting breast cancer. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower other vegetables might also have a role in preventing colon and other types of cancer from the effect of DIM.

Senior author, Dr. Eliot Rosen of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the vegetable compound results were "stunning". The results were so positive in rodents that the researchers have filed a patent with Georgetown University.

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Rosen added this is the first study to show the vegetable compound DIM could protect from radiation harm, though years of research show it can help prevent cancer.

The study

For the study, rats were given daily injections of DIM for 2 weeks,10-minutes after receiving high dose gamma radiation.

Rosen said all of the rats died, but those treated with DIM were still alive 30-days after exposure. The compound also worked when it was given 24 hours before and 24 hours after the rats were radiated.

The rodents also were protected from platelet - blood cells that are responsible for clotting and often affected by cancer radiation therapy. Their white blood cells were also unaffected, which is another concern during cancer treatment that lowers immunity making cancer patients susceptible to infection.

The finding means DIM in cruciferous vegetables could not only protect patients undergoing cancer radiation treatment, but Rosen said it might also have a role in protection people from a lethal nuclear disaster.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables could make cancer radiation therapy much safer, meaning better cancer treatment outcomes.

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Really good to hear about these cancer radiation safety benefits of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables. We should all turn to healthier eating when possible. Everyone should use these or other vegetables in their weekly diets and encourage friends and children to do the same. We will grow a healthier generation.
Best little tree around!