Breast Cancer Stem Cells vs. Broccoli

In my Care2 post The Best Detox on Wednesday, I detailed how a phytonutrient in broccoli boosts the detoxifying enzymes in the liver, but helping to clear carcinogens isn’t the only way greens protect our DNA. A study of the DNA of broccoli-eaters found that eating broccoli appears to make DNA more resistant to damage, as I explore in my 1-minute video DNA Protection from Broccoli.

That was just one of several extraordinary studies published lately on cruciferous vegetables. Kale and the Immune System compares the immune system-boosting effect of cooked versus raw kale, a follow-up on my Best Cooking Method video. Smoking Versus Kale Juice looks at the Japanese health fad of doing shots of kale juice and asks “Is there anything kale can’t do?”

The most important study of the lot, though, explores the role phytonutrients in certain greens play in a new theory of cancer biology, cancer stem cells–the topic of my video pick above.

Sure, cruciferous vegetables produce a compound that appears to target breast cancer cells, but this is in a test tube. How do we even know we absorb sulforaphane into our bloodstream? And even if we do, how much do we have to eat to arrive at the test tube concentrations featured in the video where it countsóin breast tissue itself? An innovative group at Johns Hopkins figured it out: letís find women scheduled for breast reduction surgery, and an hour before they go into the operating room, have them drink some broccoli sprout juice! And thatís what they did, as detailed in my 2-minute video Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast. They were then able to calculate how many broccoli spouts one would have to eat on a daily basis for their breast cancer-fighting effects.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer killer of young women, but lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women overall. In my 3-minute Lung Cancer Metastases and Broccoli I talk about some fascinating new research on the effects of broccoli on cancer cell migration, suggesting that broccoli and broccoli sprouts may decrease the metastatic potential of lung cancer.

Worried about the safety of raw sprouts? Youíre probably thinking about alfalfa (Donít Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts and Update on Alfalfa Sprouts). Broccoli sprouts appear much safer in terms of the risk of food poisoning (as noted in Broccoli Sprouts).

We know this family of vegetables helps prevent cancer, but once you already have cancer, what dietary changes can one make to improve survival? Raw Broccoli and Bladder Cancer Survival completed my 13-video series on the latest research on cruciferous vegetables.

I previously covered a bit of the prevention side of the story in The Healthiest Vegetables. Wasnít there some report downplaying the role of fruits and vegetables in cancer prevention, though? Check out my 2-minute take on it in EPIC Study.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: Annie Cavanagh, Wellcome Images / Flickr

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W. C
W. C11 months ago

Thank you.

William C
William C11 months ago


da c.
Past Member 3 years ago

Whew! It's a good thing I like broccoli! :)

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sue H.
.5 years ago

Just love that my favourite veggies are helping me more than I thought.

Melissa Willardson
Mel Willardson5 years ago

Another reason to eat broccoli? Sweeeeet! My question is would it be more effective to eat it raw or cooked for this purpose.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

I wished I liked broccoli...

Amirul I.
Amirul I.5 years ago

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago

good to know. thanks!