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Woman eating brocolli

Broccoli has been recommended by dieticians for years in view of its rich vitamin and fiber contents. However a new study has now revealed that the vegetable may also soon protect people from head and neck cancer.

According to scientists, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may in the future be used as a part of ‘green chemoprevention’, in what is being accounted as a new treatment method towards fighting cancer.

Researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) used broccoli sprout extracts to provide protection from oral cancer in mice. Encouraged by the results, the team is planning to expand clinical trials to humans who are at high risk for neck and head cancer.

“People who are cured of head and neck cancer are still at very high risk for a second cancer in their mouth or throat, and, unfortunately, these second cancers are commonly fatal,” said lead author Julie Bauman, co-director of the UPMC Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence.

“So we’re developing a safe, natural molecule found in cruciferous vegetables to protect the oral lining where these cancers form,” Bauman said.

Bauman also extensively collaborated with Dr Johnson to study the effects of sulforaphane on mice which are predisposed to oral cancer.

It should be noted that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli are rich in sulforaphane which is known to possess cancer fighting properties.

“The clear benefit of sulforaphane in preventing oral cancer in mice raises hope that this well-tolerated compound also may act to prevent oral cancer in humans who face chronic exposure to environmental pollutants and carcinogens,” said Johnson.

Upcoming trials will include 40 participants who have received curative treatment for head and neck cancer. They will be provided with capsules containing powered broccoli.

“We call this ‘green chemoprevention’, where simple seed preparations or plant extracts are used to prevent disease. Green chemoprevention requires less money and fewer resources than a traditional pharmaceutical study, and could be more easily disseminated in developing countries where head and neck cancer is a significant problem,” Bauman said.