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Broccoli Antioxidant Found to Help Breast Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, December 8, 2008, abstracted from “The dietary phytochemical indole-3-carbinol is a natural elastase enzymatic inhibitor that disrupts cyclin E protein processing“, printed online December 8, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnip, and radish (1) owe their health-promoting properties to antioxidants called indoles (2). One such indole is called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which benefits overall cell health (3), infant health (4), detoxification (5), bladder health (6), and heart health (7). Another antioxidant called sulfurophane has been shown to help prostate health (8).

Now a new study (9) has found how I3C is able to help with breast cell health. Previous research has shown that cruciferous vegetable consumption decreases the risk of reproductive tissue cancer (10). In the new study, researchers identified the first target of I3C in breast cancer to be a protein called elastase, which is highly expressed in human breast cancers and has been implicated in tumor progression (11). Specifically, the researchers treated late stage breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231 cells) with 100 micromoles of I3C, resulting in decreased production of inflammatory cells that promote cancer progression.

The importance of this study is not only that breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the biggest cancer killer of American women. It caused an estimated 40,580 deaths in 2004 (12) and accounted for up to 25% of the $157 billion in cancer costs in the U.S. in 2001 (13). “A critical challenge” in controlling breast cancer is finding therapies that can control breast cancer progression with reduced side effects, especially during prolonged treatments. They may now have their therapy in I3C and their therapy target in elastase.

For the researchers, “our results demonstrate that elastase is the first identified specific target protein for I3C and…implicates the potential use of this indole, or related compounds, in targeted therapies of human breast cancers.” In addition to I3C, other ways to help maintain breast health include include folic acid (14), resveratrol (15), kelp (16), vitamin E (17), black cohosh (18), soy (19), curcumin (20), and lignan (studies in 2006 (21) and 2007 (22)).

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com

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