Although broccoli has previously been cited as a vegetable that can help to prevent and treat prostate cancer, recent studies have discovered that a certain component within broccoli may be able to work miracles for breast cancer patients as well.
It’s all thanks to sulforaphane, an element in broccoli that can attack cancer stem cells.
The Story Behind Sulforaphane
Found both in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane can both target and kill cancer cells and prevent new cancer cells from growing. In breast cancer patients, it can actually inhibit the growth of the cancer stem cells, which can’t be treated through chemotherapy. Although the research on sulforaphane is in its early stages, researchers hope to eventually harness the power of sulforaphane in order to treat breast cancer.
Currently, studies are being performed on mice to determine the efficacy of sulforaphane. So far, scientists have detected significant changes when sulforaphane is introduced to the study. It seems that cancer cells treated with sulforaphane are unable to grow new tumors.
The findings of these studies were even more exciting because the sulforaphane appeared to have little effect on the normal, healthy cells. Since many cancer treatments cause significant damage to all cells, even the healthy ones, researchers hope that sulforaphane might be able to attack only the cancerous cells instead of all of them.
By targeting the cancer stem cells, sulforaphane offers scientists hope that one day they will be able to effectively attack all aspects of breast cancer. Finding a way to successfully control the cancer stem cells is one of the key goals of cancer research today, so sulforaphane may prove to be a valuable component of future cancer treatments.
Will Eating Broccoli Help?
Adding more broccoli to your diet is always good for you, since the delicious veggie is full of phytonutrients, vitamin C, and vitamin A, in addition to sulforaphane. However, the treatments that are being studied by cancer researchers contain a much highly concentrated version of sulforaphane, which unfortunately cannot be achieved by simply eating a lot of broccoli.
At this time, sulforaphane is still not recommended as a supplement since sufficient research hasn’t been completed. Some natural supplements are available, but possible side effects won’t be understood until more extensive research is conducted. In addition, these early sulforaphane supplements are unregulated, so concentration levels are unpredictable.
Even though you’re not going to be able to fight cancer by eating broccoli just yet, you can incorporate more broccoli into your diet in order to take advantage of all of the rich vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetable. Consider these simple ways to add a little more broccoli to your life:
- Steam it. Steamed broccoli and carrots make a great pairing over rice. Don’t steam your broccoli for too long though, as many of the vitamins and minerals may cook off.
- Dip it. Yes, the traditional dip for broccoli is ranch, but for a healthier option, try dipping your broccoli in hummus or your own homemade guacamole.
What are your favorite ways to serve broccoli? Share your ideas in the comments!