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Compound in Broccoli Could Protect the Skin from Sunburn and Cancer

Update Date: Sep 11, 2013 09:59 AM EDT
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When parents tell you to finish up your vegetables, it is for your own good. Even though the leafy greens might not be as tasty as other foods, consuming a good amount of vegetables is vital for a healthy life. Several studies have found that eating vegetables and fruit help lower some cancer risks and boost energy. In a new study, researchers found a compound in broccoli that could protect the skin from skin cancer and nasty sunburns. They are suggesting that people might not even have to eat broccoli to reap the benefits.

For this study, the research team composed of lead investigator Sally Dickinson, a research assistant professor in the Pharmacology Department of the University of Arizona Cancer Center and researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined the health benefits of broccoli. The research team studied a particular compound found in broccoli called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane was identified as a highly effective compound that can inhibit cancer-causing pathways. This compound is also responsible for triggering chemoprotective genes.

From their research, the team found that this compound could also be effective in preventing toxicity from chemotherapy drugs. Since the compound triggers the chemoprotective genes, the genes are then capable of protecting healthy tissues from the negative side effects of chemotherapy drugs. On top of that, the research team stated that this compound seems to be able to combat sunburns because it induces protective enzymes in the skin. Even though the team has not found the proper dosage of broccoli that would help, they suggest that the effects of broccoli would work if the vegetable was rubbed directly onto the skin.

"We're searching for better method to prevent skin cancer in formats that are affordable and manageable for public use," Dickinson said according to Daily Mail. "Sulforaphane may be an excellent candidate for use in the prevention of skin cancer caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays."

The researchers believe that more research done on this compound could help with treatment and preventative measures for sunburns and skin cancer. The press release from the University can be found here.

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