~ Broccoli Compound Offers Protection From Bladder Cancer

July 29, 2005

On July 18 2005 at the annual Institute of Food Technologists meeting held in New Orleans, Ohio State University food science and technology professor Steven Schwartz presented the findings that a compound found in broccoli inhibits the growth of bladder cancer cells. The scientists' work confirms earlier findings from Ohio State and Harvard Universities that men who consumed more than two servings of broccoli per week had a 44 percent lower incidence of bladder cancer than men whose intake was one serving or less.

The researchers tested compounds known as glucosinolates and isothiocyanates on cultured human and mouse bladder cancer cells. Isothiocyanates are formed from glucosinolates in broccoli sprouts when they are chopped, chewed or digested.

Dr Schwartz and his colleagues found that while glucosinolates failed to inhibit the growth of the cancerous cells, isothiocyanates decreased cell growth in all of the lines tested, particularly in the most aggressive bladder cancer cell line, that of human invasive transitional cell carcinoma.

While the mechanism of action of isothiocyanates remains unknown, the researchers believe that there are other compounds in broccoli that could have anticancer benefits, and note that other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower may contain similar phytochemicals.

Dr Schwartz stated, "We're starting to look at which compounds in broccoli could inhibit or decrease the growth of cancerous cells. Knowing that could help us create functional foods that benefit health beyond providing just basic nutrition." He added, "Cruciferous veggies have an effect on other types of cancer, too. We already know that they contain compounds that help detoxify carcinogens. We're thinking more along the lines of progression and proliferation, such as once cancer starts, is there a way to slow it down?"

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