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If You Hate Eating Broccoli, Wear It Instead

Broccoli for skin cancer

Lots of kids and adults say they hate eating broccoli, and the vegetable has been the brunt of many jokes over the years, even though it is a rich source of beneficial nutrients. Now, for all of you who don’t like to eat this special veggie, you might be able to enjoy its health benefits if you wear it instead.

Does wearing this broccoli make me look green?

Why would you want to wear broccoli? Ask Sally Dickinson, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Arizona (UA) and a UA Cancer Center member. She has been exploring the virtues of broccoli and, in particular, the veggie’s cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane, for years.

Until now, scientists have mainly focused on broccoli’s chemopreventive attributes when it is consumed in oral form. Researchers have shown that eating broccoli and taking broccoli supplements may be effective in fighting common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and Crohns disease.

However, several studies have explored the use of topical formulas of sulforaphane-rich extracts from broccoli sprouts on mouse and human skin exposed to ultraviolet rays, and the results have been promising. In addition, another study recently completed and reported by a team at the University of Arizona (including Dickinson) found that topical sulforaphane in a specific formulation (a polyethylene glycol ointment) was both effective and retained efficacy in live models.

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Could a broccoli compound be a new way to help prevent skin cancer? Is broccoli the source of a new type of sunscreen?

Before you begin spreading broccoli all over your skin, be aware that Dickinson’s research is still ongoing. She will be testing a topical broccoli sprout formula on the skin of patients to see if it is effective against solar-simulated light.

Dickinson noted that “We already know that it [sulforaphane] is very effective in blocking sunburns, and we have seen cases where it can induce protective enzymes in the skin.” If the new research is successful, it could lead to a day when individuals will apply broccoli extract containing sulforaphane on their skin to help prevent skin cancer.

Franklin SJ et al. Stability of sulforaphane for topical formulation. Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy 2013 Apr 23
Talalay P et al. Sulforaphane mobilizes cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 2007 Oct 30; 104(44): 17500-5
University of Arizona Cancer Center

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