Broccoli, A Natural Cancer Alternative | Health Blog

Date: 09/18/2008    Written by: Jon Barron

Good Reasons to Eat Broccoli

Broccoli Preventing Cancer

"I do not like broccoli," George Bush, Senior, once said, "And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."

If George Sr was trying to set an example for the American people, he "done em" wrong. In fact, broccoli is a wonder food. Past research has established the vegetable as helpful in preventing cancer, macular degeneration, heart attacks, strokes, and complications of diabetes. Now, a new study shows that broccoli also helps prevent chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) -- the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore found that patients with COPD had much lower levels of a certain gene known as "NRF2" when compared to subjects without the disease. In fact, the more advanced the COPD, the lower the levels of the gene. Because certain lung-protecting antioxidants depend on the NRF2 gene, when the levels of the gene decline so do the levels of the protective antioxidants. So, how in the world does broccoli affect genetics? Well, the Johns Hopkins researchers found that they could prevent decay of the NRF2 genes by introducing a substance naturally occurring in broccoli, called "sulforaphane." By bolstering the supply of NRF2 genes, the sulforaphane simultaneously increased the supply of NRF2-dependent antioxidants and as a result, protected lung cells from damage caused by toxins and pollutants such as cigarette smoke, which the antioxidants remove from lung tissue.

This news is particularly important because COPD is so widespread, encompassing a group of lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, in which victims experience blocked airflow and compromised breathing. As many as 24-million people in the US alone have the condition.

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, kohlrabi, and leafy greens including collards, bok choy, watercress, and kale. All vegetables in this family contain high levels of vitamin C and cancer-inhibiting phytochemicals, including the above-mentioned sulforaphane, as well as isothiocyanates, indoles, and dithiolthiones. Studies have found that these phytochemicals moderate the harmful effects of radiation, shrink tumors, and prevent the development of cancer in the first place.

For instance, a study from UCLA discovered that eating four servings of broccoli a week reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 50 percent. And a 2005 study at Georgetown University discovered that mice exposed to high levels of carcinogenic tobacco components were far less likely to develop lung tumors when administered broccoli-derived isothiocyanates. A follow-up study found that the isothiocyanates targeted and killed off cancer cells in lung tissue while leaving healthy cells alone. Yet another mouse study (2004), from Gifu University in Japan, found that indole-3-carbinol -- one of the phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables --had strong anti-estrogenic properties and significantly reduced the incidence of endometrial tumors and cancers.

In 2001, researchers at Stanford University found that sulforaphane from broccoli activated enzymes that reduced the risk of prostrate cancer. In 2002, another experiment found that mice fed sulforaphane derived from broccoli seeds had 39 percent fewer stomach tumors than the control group, plus, they developed far fewer stomach infections and ulcers. The researchers in that case concluded that eating lots of cruciferous vegetables could actually "eradicate intracellular and resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori" and block the formation of stomach cancer.

These studies are just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of other studies attest to the powerful anti-carcinogenic and health-promoting effects of these vegetables.

Which brings us back to George, Sr. He should have listened to his mother. Goodness knows where the US would be today had he (and later, his son) run on a platform of "Eat Your Broccoli." Why, we'd all be calling that the Bush Doctrine now.

P.S. Broccoli sprouts (available in capsules) contain up to 100 times more anti-carcinogenic properties than the fully grown vegetable.


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    Submitted by Annie Wall on
    October 12, 2008 - 8:48pm

    Broccoli is so easy to grow. I live in Australia and i mostly have continuous broccoli in my garden so there is no excuse.

    Submitted by Chan on
    September 19, 2008 - 4:16pm

    Its a good product. Broccoli may be a long-term ally against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It can boost antioxidants that fight off chemicals that can trigger COPD and fight off other negative effects of tobacco smoke.

    Submitted by Derek Watts on
    October 13, 2008 - 4:25am

    I cannot eat much broccoli because it would interfere with the Warfarin regime that I am on for atrial fibrilation. I have survived colon cancer (9 years) but I would like to take advantage of the benefits of broccoli.
    Any suggestions ?
    Derek Watts

    Submitted by irenefk on
    October 13, 2008 - 4:27am

    The unbelievable benefits of eating raw foods is truly amazing for healing and repair of our bodies, wish more would take us serious.
    God created us with miraculous systems of healing, didn't he?

    Submitted by Jon Barron on
    October 14, 2008 - 12:08pm

    Hey Guys:
    For those of you who can't eat broccoli because of its vitamin K content, broccoli sprout extract offers sulforaphane at concentration of 100:1 - 600:1. That means you can get one of the major benefits of broccoli with minimum vitamin K content. Check with your doctors. It might be an option.

    Submitted by Kristine Joy on
    October 17, 2008 - 6:39pm

    Broccoli is the best source for Vitamin C. You can visit this site for more:

    Submitted by mandal clothespeg on
    October 13, 2008 - 12:17am

    Well, I love broccoli, it's great in salads, or just on its own dipped in yougurt. George snr was speaking just like a little immature child !

    Submitted by Norman Kurnit on
    October 28, 2008 - 4:40am

    I was on Warfarin for a while and from the reading I did I determined that it was best to not only continue eating a consistent diet including salads and broccoli, but to actually supplement vitamin K (my daily multi had 60 micrograms) because that leads to less fluctuation in the INR. You would have to increase the Warfarin (under doctor's supervision), but if you take very little vitamin K you have the possibility of the Warfarin completely overwhelming what little vitamin K you get and ending up with large fluctuations.

    Submitted by Seyhan Dwelis on
    October 14, 2008 - 9:47am

    When my husband was put on Coumadin, he was told not to change his diet (which was pretty heavy on salads and other vitaminK veggies) and to keep it consistent. They simply adjusted the medication accordingly. Maybe you could talk to your doctor about adding broccoli to your diet and see what he/she says?

    Submitted by Seyhan Dwelis on
    October 13, 2008 - 3:30am

    I have COPD. I've always enjoyed broccoli, although not as frequently as recommended. However, I also have thyroid problems and recently learned that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli can interfere with proper thyroid function. Any suggestions?

    Submitted by Linda W on
    February 8, 2012 - 10:54am

    I grow brocolli sprouts weekly. We love them on sandwiches, salads or just plain with a little lemon! They are very easy to grow and they are soo delicious! So good for you too! I buy the seeds by the pound and sprout them.

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