Increased consumption of the superfood broccoli may help prevent the recurrence of cancer cells in survivors of head and neck cancer, a new study has found.
"With head and neck cancer, we often clear patients of cancer only to see it come back with deadly consequences a few years later," said lead author Julie Bauman from the University of Pittsburgh.
Broccoli contains a high concentration of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring molecular compound known to protect people against the environmental carcinogens, the study said.
Consuming broccoli extracts induces sulforaphane in the cells, thereby increasing the levels of protein which activates "detoxification" genes present in the cruciferous vegetable.
These genes protect the cells from cancer, as they cleanse the body from the carcinogens, especially from cigarettes.
For the study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, the team treated human head and neck cancer cells with varying doses of sulforaphane and compared them to normal, healthy cells that line the throat and mouth.
In addition, a similar test was conducted to see how the broccoli extract performed in mice predisposed to head and neck cancer.
The results showed that mice who received the sulforaphane developed fewer tumours than their counterparts who did not receive the extract.
"A preventative drug created from whole plants or their extracts may ease the costs of production and distribution and ultimately have a huge positive impact on mortality and quality of life in people around the world," Bauman suggested.
(Inputs from IANS)