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October 28, 2005

Eating Cabbage May Ward Off Lung Cancer

Topics: Medicine

According to recent research published in The Lancet, suggests that a diet that regularly includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, radish, turnip and watercress - may protect some individuals against the risk of lung cancer. Although earlier studies have suggested that these foods might play a role in preventing lung cancer, their results were not conclusive. The latest research indicates that a person's genetic status may influence or mask this effect.

The apparent value of the cruciferous vegetables lies in the fact that they are rich in isothiocyanates, which have been shown to have a chemopreventive effect against lung cancer. Isothiocyanates are removed from the body by glutathione-S-transferase enzymes, which are produced by the genes GSTM1 and GSTT1. People who have inactive forms of these genes have higher levels of isothiocyanates.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in isothiocyanates, which have been shown to have strong chemopreventive properties against lung cancer. Isothiocyanates are sulphur-containing phytochemicals that combat carcinogens by neutralizing them, reducing their poisonous effect.

Specific genes -- GSTM1 and GSTT -- produce enzymes (glutathione-S-transferase) that eliminate these isothiocyanates from the body.

In some individuals, these genes occur in an inactive form, reducing their elimination capacity. Therefore, they retain higher concentrations of isothiocyanates when they consume foods rich in these phytochemicals.

We clearly know that there is a genetic susceptibility to lung cancer

Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for their pungent aromas and spicy (some say bitter) taste. The hydrolysis (breakdown) of glucosinolates by a class of plant enzymes called myrosinase results in the formation of biologically active compounds, such as indoles and isothiocyanates.

Myrosinase is physically separated from glucosinolates in intact plant cells. However, when cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed, myrosinase comes in contact with glucosinolates and catalyzes their hydrolysis. Scientists are currently interested in the potential for high intakes of cruciferous vegetables as well as several glucosinolate hydrolysis products to prevent cancer (see Indole-3-Carbinol and Isothiocyanates).

Posted by Richard at October 28, 2005 11:51 AM

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