Cruciferous vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Notable members of this powerfully nutritious family include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, watercress, radish, and dark leafy greens such as kale, arugula, and turnip greens. Not only are they good for you in numerous ways, but now there’s new proof that this veggie variety can also fight cancer as well.
The subject of research for decades, cruciferous vegetables have recently been shown to halt the growth of prostate tumors — giving hope to people who live with the chronic disease.
Attendees of this year’s meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research learned that these veggies contain a chemical that specifically protects the body against cancer. This natural, health-boosting chemical is called “phenethyl-ITC” (PEITC), and it is released from cruciferous vegetables once they are cut or chewed.
In an amazing laboratory experiment, it was shown that PEITC actually killed cancer cells. In a study on human prostate tumors (performed on mice, for safety reasons), researchers used small amounts of PEITC.
And there was the proof: When a tumor was confronted with PEITC, its growth slowed down. After a month of this, the size of the tumor shrunk (compared with mice that did not receive the chemical). The results are promising to specialists in cancer prevention. After only two weeks, the size and activity of tumors had decreased.
A second study presented at the same meeting also presented exciting results. It looked at another antioxidant, called “sulforaphane” that specifically helped prevent another type of cancer — that of the colon. This chemical substance is also released when cruciferous vegetables are chewed.
Sulforaphane was used against a condition that causes polyps in the colon, which is handed down through genetics. The condition that these polyps are caused by is called “familial adenomatous polyposis.” People with this condition are at high risk of developing colon cancer.
By adding sulforaphane to the diet for three weeks, the number of polyps that developed was decreased — and those polyps that did present were smaller than the researchers expected. Putting this into perspective, every polyp that is prevented means there is one less possibility that colon cancer could occur.