BROCCOLI, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower may all contain a cancer-busting compound, scientists say.
The cruciferous veg all contain a chemical which can slow the growth of cancerous tumours.
Scientists have found that putting the broccoli compound on the deadly cancer gene known as WWP1, helped to suppress tumour growth in cancer-prone lab animals.
“We found a new important player that drives a pathway critical to the development of cancer, an enzyme that can be inhibited with a natural compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables,” said study lead Dr Pier Paolo Pandolfi, director of the Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deconness Medical Centre.
Our natural tumour defenses are easily silenced
Humans naturally have a tumour-suppressing gene called PTEN.
Unfortunately, it’s one of the most frequently deleted or silenced genes in the body, and when it becomes mutated, you become susceptible to developing cancers and other issues.
Because of that, you’ve got two copies of the gene – one from each parent. Rather than destroying both entirely, WWP1 genes start to contain lower levels of PTEN.
Broccoli can help boost them
That’s lead scientists to wonder if restoring PTEN levels to normal in cancer settings might help to boost the gene’s tumour-busting properties.
To find out, they carried out a series of experiments on cancer-prone mice and human calls.
They found the cancerous WWP1 genes produce an enzyme that stops PTEN’s cancer-busting activities.
Scientists then analysed the enzyme’s shape and recognised that a small molecule present was also an ingredient in broccoli and other similar veg.
But you need to eat a lot of it
And that, they concluded, could be the key to killing the cancer causing effects of WWP1.
But don’t think that a handful of veg on the side of your plate is going to protect you.
MORE ON CANCER
You’ve got to eat nearly six pounds of uncooked Brussel sprouts a day to reap their potential anti-cancer benefit.
And that’s why the team are now looking at developing more potent WWP1 inhibitors.
Dr Pandolfi said: “These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumour suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment.”
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