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Broccoli Nutrient May Target Colon Cancer Cells

Broccoli and colon cancer

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Lifestyle habits play a big role, as it has been estimated that we could potentially prevent a large number of cases with improved diet and exercise.


Per the American Cancer Society, eating more fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of developing colon cancer. A new study has found one particularly beneficial veggie – broccoli.

Researchers with the National University of Singapore, led by Associate Professor Matthew Chang, have found that an enzyme found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, can target colon cancer cells thus reducing size of tumors.

The team utilized a probiotic as a vehicle for delivery in laboratory mice and found that the combination effectively reduced tumor numbers by 75%. In addition, the tumors that remained were 3 times smaller in the mice that received the dietary supplement.

It is possible that the combination could be used in two different ways, per the research team.

1) as prevention – if those at risk would strive toward a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which not only deliver potent nutrients and antioxidants but can also balance gut bacteria with beneficial fiber, perhaps we could effectively lower the number of colorectal cancer cases that occur.

2) to clean up the cancer cells remaining after surgical removal of tumours. One day, says Chang, colorectal cancer patients may be able to take the probiotics as a dietary supplement along with their broccoli to prevent colorectal cancer or to reduce recurrence after cancer surgery.

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The World’s Healthiest Foods notes that broccoli contains a unique combination of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and pro-detoxification components that makes it an especially good food for cancer prevention. Broccoli has been found to have a positive effect on decreasing risk for prostate cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer.

How much broccoli should you eat to achieve cancer prevention benefits? Of course we don’t know for sure, but it appears that a ½ cup of broccoli a day is enough to provide measurable benefits. Even if you aren’t one to eat broccoli EVERY day, a 2 cup serving twice a week would still meet this minimum for positive effects.

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Journal Reference:
Chun Loong Ho, Hui Qing Tan, Koon Jiew Chua, Aram Kang, Kiat Hon Lim, Khoon Lin Ling, Wen Shan Yew, Yung Seng Lee, Jean Paul Thiery, Matthew Wook Chang. Engineered commensal microbes for diet-mediated colorectal-cancer chemoprevention. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2018; 2 (1): 27 DOI: 10.1038/s41551-017-0181-y

Additional References:
American Cancer Society
World’s Healthiest Foods