The current work builds on a major study conducted six years ago by Harvard and Ohio State universities that found that men who ate two or more half-cup servings of broccoli per week had a 44 percent lower incidence of bladder cancer compared to men who ate less than one serving each week.
“We’re starting to look at which compounds in broccoli could inhibit or decrease the growth of cancerous cells,” said Steven Schwartz, a study co-author and a professor of food science and technology at Ohio State University. “Knowing that could help us create functional foods that benefit health beyond providing just basic nutrition.”
The researchers isolated compounds called glucosinolates from broccoli sprouts. During chopping, chewing and digestion, these phytochemicals morph into nutritional powerhouses called isothiocyanates – compounds that the scientists believed play a role in inhibiting cancer.
Their hunch was right, at least in the laboratory experiments. There, isothiocyanates hindered the growth of bladder cancer cells. And the most profound effect was on the most aggressive form of bladder cancer they studied.
They first extracted and measured the levels of glucosinolates from broccoli sprouts. They then used a process that uses enzymes to convert the glucosinolates to isothiocyanates. While young sprouts naturally have higher concentrations of these phytochemicals than full-grown broccoli spears, eating the spears also provides health benefits, Schwartz said.
He and his colleagues treated two human bladder cancer cell lines and one mouse cell line with varying amounts of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Even though glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates, the researchers wanted to know if the former would have any effect on controlling the growth of cancer cells. Unfortunately, they did not. However, the isothiocyanates decreased proliferation in all three cell lines. The strongest effect was on the most aggressive of these lines – human invasive transitional cell carcinoma.
MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University