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These Little Sprouts Can Dramatically Cut Cancer and Ulcer Risk

Broccoli sprouts may decrease levels of Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori), a bacteria linked to stomach ulcers and gastric cancer, according to a study published in the April 2009 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

H. Pylori causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach and is the leading cause of stomach ulcers worldwide.  Infection with H. Pylori also causes gastritis and may increase the risk of gastric cancer.

It is estimated that 30% of the adult population in the United States is infected with H. Pylori.

Researchers from the Tokyo University of Science in Japan recruited 48 Japanese men and women with an average age of 55 for the study.  All of the participants were infected with H. Pylori at the beginning of the study.

The participants were randomly assigned to eat either 70 grams of fresh broccoli sprouts daily for eight weeks or an equivalent amount of alfalfa sprouts.

After eight weeks, the researchers measured H. Pylori levels in the participants’ breath, serum and stool and found that the broccoli sprout group had significantly lower levels of the bacteria.

According to the researchers, these results suggest that broccoli sprouts can reduce H. Pylori levels in the stomach but not completely eliminate the bacteria.

With regards to the mechanisms behind these findings, the researchers noted previous studies which have found a link between the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts and an increase in cytoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory enzymes.

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.

Previous research has shown that drastic changes in diet aren't necessary to see the anti cancer and ulcer benefits of cruciferous vegetables.  Just a few additional servings of cruciferous vegetables each day can have a dramatic effect.

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