In February, Times Magazine reported, in its “HealthDay” column, that a concentrated extract of freeze-dried broccoli sprouts had reduced bladder tumor development by more than half in laboratory rats.
The researchers said that the finding supports epidemiological studies in humans that indicate that eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli correlates with a lower risk of bladder cancer. Dr. Yuesheng Zhang, a professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, stated, “Although this is an animal study, it provides potent evidence that eating vegetables is beneficial in bladder cancer prevention.”
The protective effect of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is partly due to a group of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates (ITCs). Zhang said that the bladder is particularly responsive to this group of chemicals.
The Rats had been given a Chemical that would Cause Bladder Cancer
They gave high doses of the broccoli extract to one group and a low dose to another group. A third group did not receive any of the extract. It was given to the rats two weeks before they received the cancer-causing chemical.
Ninety-six percent of the rats that didn't receive the extract developed about two tumors per animal. The rate in the rats that had received a low dose was 1.39 tumors in 74 percent of the rats. In the rats that received a high dose of the extract, .46 tumors developed in 38 percent of the rats.
The sprout extract used in this study had about 600 times as much phytochemicals as mature broccoli; broccoli sprouts have 30 times more phytochemicals than mature broccoli. Dr. Zhang said that humans at risk for bladder cancer wouldn't need to eat large amounts of broccoli sprouts to achieve protective effects. He feels that much lower doses may be adequate for bladder cancer prevention. This study was funded by the Vital Vegetables Research Program of Australia and New Zealand, the National Cancer Institute and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.
About 53,200 Americans come Down with Bladder Cancer each Year
Annual deaths are about 12,200. It's number six in cancers in the United States. It has been steadily increasing in recent decades. The good news is that doctors are becoming more successful at treating it and survival rates are improving.
Johns Hopkins’ Brassica Chemoprevention Laboratory has a new report out that recommends enriching the diet with sulforaphane, highly concentrated in broccoli. It has been demonstrated that it will turn on detoxifying enzymes in the body. What happens is that an enzyme known as myrosinase is released when the plant's walls are broken, as in chewing, and the production of sulforaphane is triggered.
Another study at the University of Pittsburgh indicates that the ITCs in broccoli may also protect against prostate cancer. Shivendra Singh, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has been given a $1.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study prostate cancer prevention by the use of the phytochemicals (ITCs) found in broccoli. The good news for people who don't like the vegetable is that the sprouts don't taste like broccoli. The sprouts of related plants like arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and others also have this substance in startling concentrations. It is present in the seed; and as the seeds sprout, they don't make any more, but they also don't lose any. Of all of the members of the family, broccoli and cauliflower were the top performers. The researchers measured the potential anticancer activity by extracting materials from the sprouts and running them through a test that measured their ability to activate phase-2 enzymes, which are detoxifiers.
The Johns Hopkins team found that seed dealers offer some 80 different cultivated varieties of broccoli and that there was wide variability in what a given cultivar could deliver. In this latest study, they found a variation of from 92,500 to 769,000 units of activity per each gram of 3-day-old broccoli sprouts.
While there is some discussion among the researchers about whether sprouts are better than mature broccoli in preventing cancer, there is general agreement that the ITCs, the phytochemical cancer-preventing substances found in the sprouts is much more highly concentrated, which tends to favor them over the mature plants.
By TTS Cofounder Botanical Chef Omid Jaffari