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Discovery of broccoli’s cancer-fighting ability

February 1, 2011  By Fruit & Vegetable


broccoliJanuary 27, 2011 –
Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the
apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found
for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target
and block a defective gene associated with cancer.

January 27, 2011 –
Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the
apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found
for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target
and block a defective gene associated with cancer.

Their report, which could
lead to new strategies for preventing and treating cancer, appears in the
American Chemical Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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broccoli 
  

Fung-Lung Chung and
colleagues showed in previous experiments that substances called
isothiocyanates (or ITCs) – found in broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, and
other cruciferous vegetables – appear to stop the growth of cancer. But nobody
knew exactly how these substances work, a key to developing improved strategies
for fighting cancer in humans. The tumor suppressor gene p53 appears to play a
key role in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the
abnormal growth that is a hallmark of cancer. When mutated, p53 does not offer
that protection, and those mutations occur in half of all human cancers. ITCs
might work by targeting this gene, the report suggests.

The scientists studied the
effects of certain naturally occurring ITCs on a variety of cancer cells,
including lung, breast and colon cancer, with and without the defective tumor
suppressor gene. They found that ITCs are capable of removing the defective p53
protein but apparently leave the normal one alone. Drugs based on natural or
custom-engineered ITCs could improve the effectiveness of current cancer
treatments or lead to new strategies for treating and preventing cancer.


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