Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power

Date:
October 25, 2010
Source:
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Summary:
A new study has shown for the first time that sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-fighting agent in broccoli, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria in the lower gut and absorbed into the body. This discovery raises the possibility that scientists will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli's cancer-preventive power.

A University of Illinois study has shown for the first time that sulforaphane, the powerful cancer-fighting agent in broccoli, can be released from its parent compound by bacteria in the lower gut and absorbed into the body.

Related Articles


"This discovery raises the possibility that we will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli's cancer-preventive power," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of human nutrition.

"It's also comforting because many people overcook their broccoli, unwittingly destroying the plant enzyme that gives us sulforaphane. Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens," she said.

Although scientists had long theorized that the intestinal microbiota could perform this trick, no one knew it for certain.

Now Jeffery and U of I colleagues Michael Miller and Ren-Hau Lai have proved it by injecting glucoraphanin, the parent compound for sulforaphane, into the ligated lower gut of rats and demonstrating that sulforaphane is present in blood from the mesenteric vein, which flows from the gut to the liver.

"The presence of sulforaphane in measurable amounts shows that it's being converted in the lower intestine and is available for absorption in the body," Jeffery said.

The cecum, the part of the rat's lower gut into which the scientists infused the glucoraphanin, houses bacteria that aid in digestion and metabolism, similar to the human colon.

According to Jeffery, sulforaphane is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent. "The amount that you get in three to five servings a week -- that's less than one daily serving of broccoli -- is enough to have an anti-cancer effect. With many of the other bioactive foods you hear about, vast amounts are required for a measurable outcome."

Sulforaphane also has anti-inflammatory properties, which are interesting to scientists for their ability to counter the effects of many of the chronic diseases that accompany obesity and aging.

Miller suggests two ways bacteria in the colon could be manipulated to get a boost out of broccoli. "One way might be to feed the desirable bacteria with prebiotics like fiber to encourage their proliferation. Another way would be to use a probiotic approach -- combining, say, broccoli with a yogurt sauce that contains the hydrolyzing bacteria, and in that way boosting your cancer protection."

Doesn't sound particularly appealing? Bacteria aren't always bad news, said Jeffery.

"One of the things we don't think about very much is the enormous amount of benefit we experience when a healthy community of bacteria colonizes the lower intestine," she said.

"We humans have a symbiotic relationship with countless hungry microbes that metabolize vitamins and other bioactive components of food. Now we can see another exciting example of their activity with the role they play in delivering sulforaphane from broccoli," she added.

The study is the cover story of the November 2010 issue of the new journal Food & Function. The research was funded by the USDA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ren-Hau Lai, Michael J. Miller, Elizabeth Jeffery. Glucoraphanin hydrolysis by microbiota in the rat cecum results in sulforaphane absorption. Food & Function, 2010; DOI: 10.1039/C0FO00110D

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022072556.htm>.
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2010, October 25). Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022072556.htm
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Discovery may help scientists boost broccoli’s cancer-fighting power." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101022072556.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins