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Broccoli Medicines Prescribed to Combat Breast Cancer

Update Date: Aug 20, 2012 05:38 AM EDT

Doctors have started prescribing broccoli-based medicine to women with breast cancer to see whether it suppresses their tumors.

According to some previous studies, a compound released by the body after the consumption of broccoli has the potential of boosting protective enzymes in breast tissue. Molecule sulforaphane has been harnessed by the scientists and being given to the patients diagnosed with the disease.

Although consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, has long been associated to reduced risks of conditions from arthritis to cancer, the mechanism has remained unclear, reports Mail Online.

According to researchers from the Institute of Food Research (IFR), sulforaphane has the capacity to boost the body's own anti-cancer response.

"Sulforaphane is very important," says Dr Maria Traka, of the Norwich-based IFR was quoted as saying by Mail Online. 

"The evidence suggests that it helps maintain a healthy balance of antioxidants in the body to counter the effects of dietary, environmental, or other carcinogens. To get the benefits, you would need to eat three or four portions of broccoli a week. Some may find that difficult but, having seen the evidence, my family now eats it three or four times a week," she added.

Our body produces Sulforaphane when we consume glucoraphanin, a compound found in broccoli.

What exactly sulforaphane does is that, it turns on the genes responsible for boosting the levels of antioxidants in the body, blocking a family of enzymes called HDAC which prevents the body from suppressing tumors.

It may even encourage the body to make other enzymes that excrete carcinogens. 

According to research, it may also prevent the development of cancer stem-cells which are resistant to cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Women are being given broccoli based medicines at Johns Hopkins University and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, everyday for two weeks to see if there is any reduction in the growth of tumors and if there is any increase in the levels of protective enzymes.

Also, another institute, the Knight Cancer Institute in Oregon is researching on the possibility of using broccoli extracts as a medicine to slow the growth of tumor cells upon the consumption of it, three times a day for up to two months.

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