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How Broccoli Works to Prevent Cancer

Broccoli and cancer prevention

Adding more foods with sulforaphane to your diet can prevent cancer by improving upon cell DNA.


Sulforaphane is the name of the phytonutrient within cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli which is well studied for its anti-cancer health benefits. But exactly how does it work? This is the question researchers from Oregon State University asked, and may be closer to better understanding.

The compound may work through its influence on long, non-coding RNA’s, says Emily Ho, the principal investigator of the study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. IncRNA’s were once thought to have no particular value or function, but may really play a critical role in triggering cells to become malignant (cancerous).

For example, LINC01116 appears to be “upregulated” in prostate cancer but can be decreased by treatment with sulforaphane by as much as four-fold. Researchers note that the same IncRNA is overexpressed in several other types of cancer, including brain, lung, and colon.

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In addition to being a novel approach to the treatment of cancer, utilizing a dietary compound may be found to be as effective as current drugs, but with fewer side effects.

Other foods that are rich sources of sulforaphane include kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Journal Reference:
Laura M. Beaver, Emily Ho et al. Long noncoding RNAs and sulforaphane: a target for chemoprevention and suppression of prostate cancer. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2017; 42: 72 DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.01.001

Photo Credit:
By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons