Broccoli sprouts protect from stomach cancer

June 2, 2009 by  
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broccoli_vegetablesJust two and a half ounces of broccoli a day may be what it takes to protect you from stomach cancer. But not just any broccoli. It should be the baby type of broccoli.

So what makes baby broccoli better than mature broccoli. Researchers have found that broccoli sprouts is rich with sulforaphane, a phytochemical that seems to trigger the production of enzymes in the stomach. These enzymes can provide protection against oxygen radicals, DNA damage, and inflammation.

According to Jed Fahey, a nutritional biochemist in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“We identified a food that, if eaten regularly, might potentially have an effect on the cause of a lot of gastric problems and perhaps even ultimately help prevent stomach cancer.

Stomach problems such gastritis, ulcers, and stomach cancer have been linked to the bacterial species Helicobacter pylori. The bacterium is shaped like a corkscrew and lives in the lining of the stomach. It is estimated to affect up to half of the world population and has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a carcinogen.

The study looked at 25 people in Japan who were infected with H. pylori and fed with 70 grams of broccoli sprouts each day for a period of 2 months. This was compared to 25 other people who had similar infection but consumed 70 grams of alfalfa sprouts instead.

The study results showed that the levels of infection and inflammation were great reduced in the group which consumed baby broccoli compared to those who consumed alfalfa sprouts. It seems that the sulforaphane in the broccoli sprouts is active against H. pylori, acting like a strong antibacterial agent.

Fahey continues:

“We know that a dose of a couple ounces a day of broccoli sprouts is enough to elevate the body’s protective enzymes. That is the mechanism by which we think a lot of the chemoprotective effects are occurring. But the fact that the levels of infection and inflammation were reduced suggests the likelihood of getting gastritis and ulcers and cancer is probably reduced.”

The beneficial effects of sulforaphane have been previously demonstrated in animal studies. This is the first study to demonstrate its effects in humans.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea), not only the sprouts, but the mature heads as well, is known to have health benefits and healing powers against cancer and heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

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