It may be more infamous as one of the most despised vegetables by kids during mealtime, but does broccoli have something to contribute to humanity’s “war on cancer”?
By: Ringo Bones
Imagine if you or someone close to you have just found out that they have cancer and the doctor recommends broccoli cancer therapy. Would they think that the cure is worse than the disease? Almost all of us at one time or another probably hate it as kids when we were quite almost literally forced feed it during mealtime and it is still an acquired taste for us when it is sautéed in some irresistible secret sauce in a typical Chinese haute cuisine, but did you know that broccoli might have something in it that can be used as a potential cure for cancer?
Dr. Ingrid Herr of Heidelberg University Hospital and her research team had just found out in a recent medical study that a chemical found in broccoli makes conventional chemotherapy more effective in treating ordinary cancer cells and even the more aggressive stem cell cancer cells. The chemical is called sulforaphane – an organosulfur compound that exhibits anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties. Even though sulforaphane was found to be effective in previous anti-cancer experimental models, the recent study by Dr. Herr was one of the first of its kind to be tried in a real-world scenario in conjunction with existing chemotherapy.
Sulforaphanes are not only found in broccoli but also in other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbages. It is produced, or “synthesized”, when the enzyme myrosinase transforms glucoraphanin – a glucosinolate – into sulforaphane upon damage to the vegetable’s cellular structure via chewing. Young sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower are particularly rich in glucoraphanin. In previous studies, consumption of broccoli sprouts had also been shown to be potentially effective at inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter pylori in our stomachs. Sadly, this is a further proof that most foods that are genuinely good for our health are the one’s we don’t particularly like.