Compound in Broccoli Kills Leukemia Cancer Cells, Leaves Healthy Cells Unaffected

Food as Medicine

broccoliThe health benefits of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage are near countless. Many of these vegetables are able to prevent obesity, protect against heart disease, and even prevent cancer. In one recent study, researchers with Baylor College of Medicine have found a compound from these valuable veggies can actually kill cancer cells.

According to a press release from the university, researchers used a concentrated form of sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli that is believed to both prevent and treat cancer. They then used the concentrated formula on human-derived leukemia cancer cells.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a blood cancer most common in children. For the study, the researchers used cancer cells from pediatric patients.

“Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of cancer of the white blood cells common in children. There is about an 80 percent cure rate, but some children don’t respond to treatment. For those cases, we are in need of alternative treatments,” said Dr. Daniel Lacorazza, assistant professor of pathology & immunology.

When treated with the concentrated sulforaphane, the cancer cells died while health cells were completely unaffected. (Many other foods such as the turkey tail mushroom, turmeric, ginger, and grape seed extract have also been found to wipe out cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.)

“Sulforaphane is a natural product. However, what we used in this study is a concentrated purified form,” said Lacorazza. “So while eating cruciferous vegetables is good for you, it will not have the same effect as what we saw in the  lab.”

Eating meals of broccoli may not kill cancer if you’ve already been diagnosed; that is true. However, this isn’t the first study to link sulforaphane with cancer treatment and prevention, suggesting the vegetables containing this important compound can play a crucial role in both prevention and treatment.

The study abstract concluded with:

“Finally, the administration of sulforaphane to the ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) xenograft models resulted in a reduction of tumor burden, particularly following oral administration, suggesting a potential role as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in high-risk ALL patients with activated AKT signaling.”

Past Research

Previous research came to similar conclusions, finding that sulforaphane could actually help reduce prostate cancer proliferation by dampening the effects of cells missing an important gene, called PTEN, which normally stops cancer from developing.

Another study showed the compound had value in protecting against breast cancer.

While the studies very well may have used concentrated sulforaphane to combat and prevent cancer, it’s reasonable to say that the vegetables containing this compound at natural levels do offer some level of prevention and protection. Don’t wait for sulforaphane in a supplement or drug form, just continue (or start) eating vegetables on a regular basis.