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Vegetables Help Fight Breast Cancer

Compound in broccoli and other greens stops malignant cell growth

THURSDAY, Sept. 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The anticancer compound sulforaphane, found in vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale, blocks the growth of late-stage breast cancer cells, a new study says.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers say their finding, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition, could help improve prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

"This is the first report to show how the naturally occurring plant chemical sulforaphane can block late stages of the cancer process by disrupting components of the cell called microtubules," Keith Singletary, a professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, said in a prepared statement.

"We were surprised and pleased to find [it] could block the growth of breast cells that were already cancerous," he said.

He and a colleague exposed cultures of malignant human breast cancer cells to the compound. Within a few hours, it had blocked the growth of the cancer cells.

It's not clear whether eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can deliver enough of the compound to have that same effect on breast cancer cells in the body.

This is the latest in a long line of research into sulforaphane's cancer-fighting properties.

More information

The American Institute for Cancer Research has more about foods that fight cancer.

SOURCE: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, news release, September 2004
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