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Broccoli Extract Shown to Inhibit Breast Cancer Stem Cells

An extract derived from broccoli called sulforaphane may actually have the ability to prevent and treat breast cancer by inhibiting cancer stem cells.

Researchers from the University of Michigan published these findings in the May 2010 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Sulforaphane is a natural compound that is produced when our bodies metabolize active plant chemicals called glucosinolates. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts contain high levels of these plant nutrients.

For their study, the researchers injected varying amounts of the broccoli extract into mice with breast cancer.

The researchers then used well established methods to determine the number of cancer stem cells in the tumors.

They found that the broccoli extract had no effect on normal cells but it appeared to reduce the number of cancer stem cells in the mice. It is believed that eliminating cancer cell stems is key to controlling cancer.

The researchers note that these exciting results are preliminary and need to be confirmed in humans.

With nearly 100,000 Americans diagnosed with breast cancer yearly, resulting in 40,000 deaths, sulphoraphane may play an important role in treating and possibly even preventing breast cancer.

Sulphoraphane has also been gaining increasing attention for its possible ability to provide protection against diabetes, support the immune system and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

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