Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity

Georgetown University Medical Center issued this press release on February 9th claiming that consuming certain vegetables can enhance DNA repair in cells, promoting protection against cancer:

In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature) the researchers show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.

Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables—especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli—aren't particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person's risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."

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Paul - February 27, 2006 9:25 AM

Please comment on the marginal benefit of switching to a a nutrient dense diet at middle age when Dr. Fuhrman seems to indicate that most of the benefit for anti-cancer accrues at an early age. If the benefit to a 45 year old man of switch to a nutrient dense diet is truely marginal (i.e. decreases my risk of cancer by less than 5 percent) then maybe the tradeoff in going on a restrictive diet to older Americans isn't worth it. If it's really too late, then why not just say so. And if the marginal benefit to a middle aged adult is substantive, please document it. Thank you.


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