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Cauliflower Prevent Various Cancers: Thanks to Sulforaphane Compounds

Christina Sarich
July 13th, 2013
Updated 05/07/2014 at 7:50 pm
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cauliflower 263x164 Cauliflower Prevent Various Cancers: Thanks to Sulforaphane CompoundsCauliflower is just one of the many cruciferous vegetables that may be able to treat cancer, according to a study coming from Rutgers University.

Cauliflower contains glucosinolates and thiocyanates — both sulfur-containing phytonutrients that cleanse the body of damaging free radicals. It also contains a substance called sulforaphane (SFN), a compound known to inhibit the occurrence of some cancers in rats caused by carcinogens, primarily colon cancer.

In the Rutger’s research, it was found once again that diet does matter in cancer prevention:

“Our research has substantiated the connection between diet and cancer prevention, and it is now clear that the expression of cancer-related genes can be influenced by chemopreventive compounds in the things we eat,” said Kong, a professor of pharmaceutics in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Even the American Cancer Society admits that more than two thirds of cancers can be prevented with lifestyle modification, and this includes diet. In this particular study, mice fed a diet high in sulforaphane, the substance naturally occurring in cauliflower and broccoli, enjoyed fewer cancerous tumors, polyps, and smaller tumors in the their colons. After three weeks, the mice fed sulforaphane had a 25% decline in tumors and those given double the dose had a 47% decrease in cancerous tumors.

Related Read: 4 Cancer-Fighting Foods

The results are obvious, “Our results showed that SFN produced its cancer preventive effects in the mice by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and inhibiting proliferation of the tumors; however, it was not clear what mechanism SFN employs to accomplish this,” Kong said.

Just how vegetables like cauliflower (and other cruciferous vegetables) help to kill cancer cells is still unknown, but Kong’s team found that SFN suppressed certain enzymes or kinases that are highly expressed both in the mice and in patients with colon cancer. The researchers concluded that this enzymatic suppression activity is the likely basis for the chemopreventive effects of SFN.

Along with cauliflower’s high levels of SFN, it is also a powerful antioxidant with high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, also known as cancer inhibitors. Researchers also believe that if you consume cauliflower and turmeric spice together, you can prevent or eradicate prostate cancer totally. The scientists, once again from Rutger’s, tested turmeric and it’s active compound known as curcumin along with phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a naturally occurring substance in certain vegetables such as watercress, cabbage, winter cress, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi and turnips. They found cancer-preventative qualities in the duo.

There are many varieties of cauliflower that you can enjoy to help prevent colon and other cancers. You can find orange, green and purple varieties along with the more commonly known white. Cauliflower doesn’t need to be relegated to the vegetable tray at parties either, there are hundreds of delicious recipes here.

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  • Robert P.

    With so many delicious foods reducing cancers why then is cancer so prevalent? Cruciferous vegetables are believed to suppress the thyroid and olive oil is a potent producers of those nasty wee free radicals that are so damaging to the body. An acquaintance who liked broccoli and cauliflower and ate large quantities of it suffered from hypothyroidism; she increased her intake and ate more of those items raw. She died of cancer about two years later.

    • RS Mallory

      Robert, the vegetables were NOT responsible for her cancer. And, by the way, it is important to note that eating ANY fruits and Veggies these days MUST be Organic or you are contaminating your body with GMO's, Chemicals and Toxins from Monsanto and scrambling your own DNA/RNA. To address your question directly, cancer is so prevalent these days BECAUSE of the environmental and food chain deterioration with these chemicals and toxins. ….we are eating "toxic "plastic" food… that which is no longer grown naturally from a bountiful earth. Instead the earth is now laden with deleterious chems that we INGEST and BREATH. I grew up in the 40's-50's when food chain was still PURE and food TASTED life food… If you want more info on how to keep your body WELL and in a HEALTHFUL Counterbalance, click my name and do some reading.

      • Robert P.

        I grew up in the 30s and 40s and at 82 I am still in good fettle but seldom eat fruit or vegetables; my main diet consists of lashings of stakes and lots of saturated fat, a few potatoes often fried in dripping or covered in butter. I try to ramp-down on both poly and mono unsaturated fats and on carbohydrates, the latter which is a tad difficult. I do recall the pre WW2 years where gardens were used to grow vegetables and fruits but sadly today everything is either processed or in some manner interfered with. Your comment is appreciated.

  • Anna

    I really like tandoori cauliflower baked in the oven. I also add it in my blended soups for creaminess (good substitute for milk). Thank you for reminding about the health benefits!

  • RS Mallory

    Fresh Cauliflower has a remarkable flavor. My favorite recipe is to wash, break into small flowers, and add to Virgin Olive Oil, fresh chopped Garlic (I like LOTS of garlic) Sliced Onions and Saute. Sprinkle a little Sea Salt over the Onions as everything Sautes down and the Cauliflower will CARMELIZE and the Sweetness will come out…. almost better than Chocolate!

    Serve with Pasta, Yougert or by itself and is Delicious!