Yet another reason to eat your broccoli, and it's a big one. Researchers at Oregon State University have found that the compound sulforaphane found in many cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale, is believed to help restore proper enzyme balance in the body to allow our genes to suppress the development of tumors.
This branch of science is known as epigenetics, the study of the way that diet, toxins and other forces influence which genes in our DNA get activated or “expressed.” The process of turning on or turning off certain genes can play a powerful role in everything from cancer to heart disease.
From the foods we eat to the chemicals we put on and in our bodies, many things can have an effect on how our cells function and how our genes work within the body. Scientists are just beginning to understand that turning on or off certain genes can have a profound effect on all kinds health concerns. In fact, many scientists believe that this sort of research may hold the key to curing many types of cancer and other diseases; if doctors can figure out how to prevent certain genes from activating, or how to activate others at the right time, they believe they might be able to prevent or reverse many types of disease.
And more and more, science is discovering that it may be as easy as deciding what to put on your dinner plate.
The compound sulforaphane that is found in cruciferous vegetables seems to partner up with our DNA to help our bodies maintain proper cell function. This is important because cell function controls cell division—and when cell division is disrupted, that is a hallmark of tumors and cancer.
The research, which was published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics, primarily looked at the effects of sulforaphane on prostate cancer, but the scientists believe that the same processes they observed are probably relevant to many other cancers, including colon cancer and breast cancer.
Both laboratory and clinical studies have shown that increasing the number of cruciferous veggies you eat can lower your risk for cancer, so bulk up on broccoli and keep the kale coming. We're sure you're not surprised.
image: Darwin Bell