Scientists have discovered that broccoli and Brussels sprouts have the ability to stop the spread of cancer. Eating the vegetables encourages the body to produce a substance known as 13C (indole-3-carbinol) which fights cancer and blocks cancer cells from proliferating.
In the study published in Cancer Prevention Research, researchers at the Ohio State University found compelling evidence indicating that 13C could have anticancer effects and other health benefits. The study focused on breast cancer cells, but it is likely that it can fight other cancers too, and it may even reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
About half of all breast cancer patients, especially those whose cancer has progressed and has become life-threatening, have an abnormally high level of a molecule called Cdc25A which is essential for cell division and proliferation and has been associated with breast and other cancers. The 13C substance destroys the molecules and the cancer.
“Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis,” said study leader Xianghong Zou, assistant professor of pathology at the Ohio State University Medical Center.
“I3C can have striking effects on cancer cells,” he explained, “and a better understanding of this mechanism may lead to the use of this dietary supplement as an effective and safe strategy for treating a variety of cancers and other human diseases associated with the over-expression of Cdc25A.” Zou cited cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, esophagus, endometrium and colon, and in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease as also having abnormally high levels of the Cdc25A molecule.
For the laboratory and animal study, researchers exposed three breast cancer cell lines to I3C. Their experiments revealed that the substance caused the destruction of Cdc25A. The researchers also pinpointed a specific location on that molecule that made it susceptible to I3C, showing that if that location is altered (because of a gene mutation), I3C no longer causes the molecule’s destruction.
Ultimately, the researchers tested the effectiveness of I3C in breast tumors in a mouse model and found that when it was given orally to the mice it reduced tumor size by up to 65 percent.
The scientists used dietary supplements that contained the active ingredients of broccoli and Brussels sprouts, although it is likely that the same effect can be achieved by eating the vegetables themselves.
The new study adds to a growing body of evidence of the anti-cancer and health benefits of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables. For example, in a study published earlier in the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that the compound sulforaphane which is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and Brussels sprouts has strong anti-cancer properties, particularly when it comes to prostate and colon cancers. Even more promising results have been found with broccoli sprouts, which have more than 50 times the amount of sulforaphane than found in mature broccoli
A study led by Victoria Kush, Ph.D of Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto and published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that greater consumption of dark green and cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli and cauliflower, was associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
In another study on breast cancer cells, researchers at the University of Michigan study found that a substance found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts killed cancer stem cells and prevented new tumors from growing in mice and human cell cultures in the lab.