June 11/New Delhi, India/The Times of India -- Cauliflower or other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli appear to protect against cancer.
Sulforaphane -- one of the primary phytochemicals in these vegetables -- has been shown for the first time to selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells healthy and unaffected.
The findings, made by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University, are another important step forward for the potential use of sulforaphone in cancer prevention and treatment.
It appears that sulforaphane, which is found at fairly high levels in broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, is an inhibitor of histone deacetylase, or HDAC enzymes. HDAC inhibition is one of the more promising fields of cancer treatment, and is being targeted from both a pharmaceutical and dietary approach, scientists say.
"It's important to demonstrate that sulforaphane is safe if we propose to use it in cancer prevention or therapies," said Emily Ho, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, the study's lead author.
"Just because a phytochemical or nutrient is found in food doesn't always mean its safe, and a lot can also depend on the form or levels consumed," Ho said. "But this does appear to be a phytochemical that can selectively kill cancer cells, and that's always what you look for in cancer therapies," she added.
The findings were published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
HDACs are a family of enzymes that, among other things, affect access to DNA and play a role in whether certain genes are expressed or not, such as tumor suppressor genes.
Some of the mechanisms that help prevent inappropriate cell growth – the hallmark of cancer – are circumvented in cancer cells.
HDAC inhibitors can help "turn on' these silenced genes and restore normal cellular function.
Previous studies done with mouse models showed that prostate tumor growth was slowed by a diet containing sulforaphane.
"It is well documented that sulforaphane can target cancer cells through multiple chemopreventive mechanisms," the researchers stated in their study. "Here we show for the first time that sulforaphane selectively targets benign hyperplasia cells and cancerous prostate cells while leaving the normal prostate cells unaffected," they said.
"These findings regarding the relative safety of sulforaphane to normal tissues have significant clinical relevance as the use of sulforaphane moves towards use in human clinical trials," they added.
The results also suggest that consumption of sulforaphane-rich food are non-toxic, safe, simple and affordable.
From the June 13, 2011,Prepared Foods' Daily News.