Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have discovered more insight into just how broccoli helps to fight off cancer.

Researchers have previously known that a compound found in broccoli called sulforaphane helps the body to fight off cancer. That’s because the compound works to inhibit enzymes, called HDACs, which are known to work against the ability of certain genes to suppress the development of tumors. But now, the new study in the journal Clinical Epigenetics shows that suforaphane also works in another way to fight cancer, through a mechanism called DNA methylation.

Emily Ho, an associate professor in the Linus Pauling Institute and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences explained in a statement how DNA methylation works:

“It appears that DNA methylation and HDAC inhibition, both of which can be influenced by sulforaphane, work in concert with each other to maintain proper cell function. They sort of work as partners and talk to each other. DNA methylation is a normal process of turning off genes, and it helps control what DNA material gets read as part of genetic communication within cells. In cancer that process gets mixed up.”

The researchers also found that broccoli sprouts are more than 50 times more packed with sulforaphane than broccoli that’s matured. This wasn’t the first time a study has proven the cancer fighting benefits of broccoli.

In 2010 researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center published a study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research showing that sulforaphane was able to kill breast cancer stem cells in mice and in lab cultures, and also prevented new tumor cells from growing.

If broccoli is not your thing, you can also get the cancer fighting benefits of from other veggies such as cauliflower and kale.


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