September 24, 2012
184 Eat Your Broccoli Raw [24 Sept 2012]
Eating cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts – has been known to reduce cancer risk for years but studies were inconsistent. Only 69% of 55 large epidemiological studies looking at cruciferous vegetable consumption and cancer found a significantly lower risk. The reason may be that these studies did not consider whether the vegetables were eaten raw or cooked.
A 2008 study at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, found a reduction in bladder cancer deaths of 40% for those who ate 3 or more servings of raw cruciferous vegetables per month! This was an average for both smokers and non-smokers; for non-smokers who ate the raw veggies compared to smokers who didn’t the reduction was 73%. There was no correlation in this study with cancer deaths and consumption of cooked cruciferous vegetables or of other fruits and vegetables cooked or raw.
The protective compounds in cruciferous vegetables are believed to be isothiocyanates, which are destroyed by cooking. These compounds are known to reduce the carcinogenic action of free radicals, preventing the formation of cancer cells. A recent study found that a particular isothiocyanate called PEITC can also kill existing cancer cells. This study, published in August 2012 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that PEITC reduced mammary tumors in susceptible mice by 56% by preventing the formation of new blood vessels (essential for tumor growth) and by apoptosis (cell death).
Another study found that PEITC was even more effective at slowing growth of prostate cancer when taken along with curcumin (from the spice turmeric). Other research has shown that PEITC reduces cancer risk by affecting the HER2 and mutant p53 genes associated with cancer growth.
The message is clear – broccoli and its cruciferous cousins are good for us, but for best protection they should be eaten raw at least once per week.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.