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Broccoli Sprout Beverage May Protect People From Cancer-Causing Air Pollutants

Air pollution kills as many as seven million people per year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent study suggests, however, that drinking a half a cup of broccoli sprout beverage could increase the ability of people’s bodies to excrete the carcinogen benzene and the lung irritant acrolein.

Both benzene and acrolein are present in air pollution and have been found to contribute to lung cancer.

Participants in the study included 291 people in a rural farming community in China located approximately 50 miles from Shanghai, one of the most polluted cities in the world. Sixty-two of the participants were men, and 229 were women, with an average age of 53.

Over the course of 12 weeks, half of the group drank a broccoli sprout beverage that provided 600 micromolars of glucoraphanin and 40 micromolars of sulforaphane daily. The other half drank a control beverage consisting of sterilized water, pineapple juice, and lime juice.

At the conclusion of the study, the broccoli group had a 61% increase in benzene excretion. They maintained that rate for 12 weeks. They also had a 23% increase in acrolein excretion.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Qidong Liver Cancer Institute, University of Minnesota, and the University of Pittsburgh conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 9, 2014, in Cancer Prevention Research.

Previous studies suggest that eating more broccoli may protect men from prostate cancer. Broccoli is also high in B vitamins, which studies show have anti-cancer properties, support the immune system and lower homocysteine (an amino acid related to high risk of heart disease and stroke).

In order to get the most health benefits from broccoli, you should consider eating it raw, although steamed broccoli also contains many of the nutrients. You can also include broccoli in salads or try a vegetable juice drink, many of which contain raw broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.

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