Broccoli sprouts and breast cancer

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbages contain many phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. In fact, in the late 90’s, published studies indicated that there was a link between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and lower risk for breast cancer.

More recently, the nutrients in broccoli sprouts and their protective effects against multiple types of cancer have seen renewed interest within the research community.

One of the key components of broccoli sprouts is a compound called sulforaphane. Broccoli sprouts that are specifically 5-6 days old contain over 100 X’s more sulforaphane than the mature plant.

In 2011, the September Oncology Report, found that sulforaphane suppressed breast cancer cell proliferation and growth. In fact, the research the committee found that Sulforaphane inhibited the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells, leading to cell death or apoptosis.

Another promising study in 2004 at the University of Buffalo, found that sulforaphane inhibited the growth of human breast cancer cells and “indicated a potential use of this compound as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment.”

So why is sulforaphane such a powerful protective agent? First of all, it acts as a “signalling” molecule. Once inside the cell, sulforaphane switches on over 200 specific genes that may be “asleep” due to toxicity, poor health and ageing factors. Once these genes are turned back on, they produce special detoxification enzymes and antioxidant enzymes.

One of the antioxidants that it helps produce is glutathione, which is a powerful and primary antioxidant that is produced inside the cell. Glutathione actually bathes the inside of the cell, protecting it against damaging free radicals and thus reducing the inflammatory response.

Secondly, sulforaphane has been found to cause cell death to cancer cells by inducing specific enzymes and proteins that cause the cancer cells to die. It also decreases the expression of oestrogen receptors, which is so important for several types of Breast Cancers.

However, the benefit of adding this super sprout to your diet does not stop there.

Multiple studies have shown promise of broccoli sprouts and sulforaphane and their effect on cancers that affect the prostate, bladder, liver, ovaries, colon and lungs.

We have long thought that we inherited diseases from our ancestors as a result of the genetic imprints. But an emerging new science called epigenetics helps us to see that we do have control over the destiny of our health. An improved diet that is very high in antioxidants and phyto chemicals like sulforaphane can actually signal the genes and the DNA to be expressed in a healthy way instead of being expressed in a disease.

According to the National Cancer Institute in the U.S., women born now, have an average risk of 12.2 percent (often expressed as “1 in 8″) of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives. By becoming informed about the latest research and making small changes in their diets, (like adding Broccoli sprouts to their diet), women may have a better opportunity to impact those statistics in a positive way.

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