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Why Sulforaphane Matters

06/03/2016
 

Science increasingly points to reduced risk of cancer and other health benefits associated with high consumption of cruciferous vegetables. There is preliminary evidence that sulforaphane, which is derived from naturally occurring glucoraphanin (also known as sulforaphane glucosinolate or SGS) in crucifers such as broccoli, can prevent and induce regression across a variety of cancers and boost the body’s own protective systems.

In 1997, a team of cancer prevision researchers led by Dr. Paul Talalay at Johns Hopkins University discovered that broccoli sprouts are the most effective natural source of sulforaphane, containing at least 20 times more SGS than uncooked mature broccoli. This work corresponds and confirms epidemiological findings that people who eat more vegetables, particularly crucifers, have lower rates of cancer and a number of other chronic diseases.

The anti-cancer properties of broccoli sprouts has been further established from these early experiments in nearly 1,000 peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals internationally. Here are some of the ways scientists have discovered broccoli spouts protect the body: The pre-cursor compound to sulforaphane, glucophanin (SGS) found in broccoli sprouts is the nutritional booster of our body’s own defensive and protective system of antioxidants.

Researchers believe that eating 1 oz keeps those antioxidants at their peak level for 2-3 days. 1 ¼ lbs of mature broccoli would be required to receive the same benefits, which is difficult on a continual basis, as these antioxidants are responsible for detoxifying the carcinogens we eat, drink, and breathe daily. Angiogenesis is prevented and/or suppressed. This is the process by which a cancerous tumor creates and grows additional blood vessels to support growth and is a fundamental step in the transition from dormant to malignant. Broccoli sprouts have been shown to cause cancer cells to commit suicide via apotosis (programmed cell death).

A recent study conducted at the University of California in Santa Barbara illustrated how broccoli sprouts worked in the same pathways and in the same fashion as the two leading chemotherapy drugs used for breast cancer. The researchers concluded that they might recommend adding broccoli sprouts as part of the treatment regime, perhaps allowing in a reduction of the amount of the drugs in an effort to reduce toxicity in existing treatments. In a recent study, researchers at the University of Michigan using human breast cancer tissue and lab mice with induced breast cancer found that, unlike chemotherapy drugs, sulforaphane attacked and killed the cancer stem cells. Without eliminating the stem cells the cancer can return.

Beyond the studies involving cancer, others have shown promise in broccoli sprouts’ role in the following: reducing risk of heart disease protecting against respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD repairing damage to lungs caused by smoking undoing damage to veins caused by diabetes killing antibiotic-resistant strains of helicobacter pylori bacteria (leading cause of ulcers) helping boost aging immune systems preventing macular degeneration of the eyes protecting skin from UV rays reducing joint inflammation easing symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimers’s diseases.

The above mentioned studies can be found in online in databases such as PNAS.org References: Fahey JW, Zhang Y, Talalay P (1997). “Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94: 10367-10372 Zhang Y, Talalay P, Cho CG, Posner GH (1992). “A major inducer of anticarcinogenic protective enzymes from broccoli: isolation and elucidation of structure". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 89(6): 2399–2403 Azarenko, Okouneva T, Singletary K, Jordan MA and Wilson L (2008). “Suppression of microtubule dynamic instability and turnover in MCF7 breast cancer cells by sulforaphane”. Carcinogenesis, 29(12): 2360-2368 Li Y Zhang T, Korkaya H, Liu S, Lee HF, Newman B, Yu Y, Clouthier SG, Schwartz SJ, Wicha MS, Sun D (2010). “Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells”. Clin. Cancer Res. 16(9): 2580–2590. Fahey JW, Haristoy X, Dolan PM et al. (2002). "Sulforaphane inhibits extracellular, intracellular, and antibiotic-resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori and prevents benzo[a]pyrene-induced stomach tumors". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99 (11): 7610–7615 Gibbs A, Schwartzman J, Deng V, Alumkal J (2009). “Sulforaphane destabilizes the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells by inactivating histone deacetylase 6”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106(39): 16663-16668

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