Broccoli could aid breast cancer fight

Broccoli could hold the key to the fight against breast cancer, scientists believe, by targeting stem cells...

Broccoli could hold the key to preventing and even treating breast cancer, claim scientists.

A chemical found in the vegetable superfood targets the cells that fuel the growth of tumours. Broccoli contains high levels of sulforaphane which can kill these cancer stem cells and prevent the disease from developing, or spreading when it is established.

U.S. scientists at the University of Michigan completed successful laboratory tests on mice and cell cultures. Study author Professor Duxin Sun said: ‘Sulforaphane has been studied previously for its effects on cancer, but this study shows that its benefit is in inhibiting the breast cancer stem cells.’

Around 46,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in Britain, with 12,000 dying from the disease. Current chemotherapy regimes do not work against cancer stem cells, which is why the disease recurs and spreads, say the researchers. They believe that eliminating the cancer stem cells is critical to controlling the growth of tumours.

Because their work has not been tested in patients, they advise people against adding sulforaphane supplements to their diet in anticipation that it might prevent or treat cancer.

They are currently developing their own method to extract and preserve the chemical and will then carry out a clinical trial to test the process.

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