Broccoli extract could fight breast cancer

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 6th May 2010

broccoli pasta lA compound derived from broccoli could help prevent or treat breast cancer by killing cancer stem cells, according to a study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study tested the effect of a concentrated dose of broccoli component sulforaphane on breast cancer in both live mice and human cell cultures.

In both cases, the sulforaphane targeted and killed many of the cancer stem cells and prevented new tumours from growing, with little effect on normal cells.

Current chemotherapies do not work against cancer stem cells, causing cancer to recur and spread.  By targeting the stem cells, researchers believe they may be able to control cancers at the source.

“This research suggests a potential new treatment that could be combined with other compounds to target breast cancer stem cells. Developing treatments that effectively target the cancer stem cell population is essential for improving outcomes,” says study author Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The amounts of sulforaphane tested were higher than can be gotten from eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts.  While sulforaphane is available as a supplement in some places, concentrations are unregulated and side effects are not wholly known.

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