Cruciferous Vegetables Prevent Cancer Twelve Ways
The cruciferous vegetables are a family of related superfood vegetables. The most famous are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, and radishes; the lesser known include bok choy, horseradish, and watercress.
These vegetables contain unique chemicals, called glucosinolates, that serve the plants as a defense system against pathogens. These chemicals have long been under study for anti-cancer effects. Some of these chemicals can be toxic at a high dose. But at the right dose, they can be your defense system against cancer.
Different vegetables of this family feature different glucosinolates with somewhat different effects. For this reason, eating a variety of these vegetables is recommended.
These vegetables also contain many familiar nutrients, such as Vitamins A and C, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients work together with the unique glucosinolates to fight cancer.
One well-designed study at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, New York) questioned patients about their eating habits. Some of the clinic patients were diagnosed with bladder cancer, and others with non-cancerous conditions.
Researchers found that the main dietary difference between the two groups was that cancer-free patients had eaten three servings per month of raw broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower. Not fruits, nor total vegetables, nor cooked cruciferous vegetables had the cancer-protective effect. Yet just three servings per month of raw broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower prevented bladder cancer.
Here are twelve ways that these vegetables are thought to prevent and fight cancer:
1. They increase the body’s antioxidant defenses.
2. They protect against damage to cell DNA.
3. They change the body’s metabolism of estrogen in a beneficial way, preventing hormone-related cancers.
4. In some cases, they increase specific Phase I enzymes in the liver that completely eliminate some carcinogens.
5. But, they suppress those Phase I liver enzymes that are known to “activate” carcinogens.
6. They increase Phase II liver enzymes, which neutralize the breakdown products of carcinogens and escort them from the body. Some cruciferous chemicals do this without increasing Phase I at all and thus not risking any activation of carcinogens.
7. They prevent the initiation of cancer when a carcinogen modifies a cell’s DNA.
8. They stop cancer cell division and prevent those cells from multiplying: anti-proliferation.
9. They prevent tumors from forming: anti-tumorigenesis.
10. They interfere with blood supply to a tumor: anti-angiogenesis.
11. They deter the spread of cancer cells: anti-metastasis.
12. They encourage apoptosis, the death of cancer cells.
Cruciferous vegetables contain powerful anti-cancer chemicals. In relatively small amounts, they can improve your odds against cancer.