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Lung Cancer Health Center

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Broccoli May Fight Lung Cancer

Ingredient in Cruciferous Vegetables May Lead to New Lung Cancer Treatment

WebMD Health News

Sept. 15, 2005 -- New research shows that a family of compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables -- like cauliflower and watercress -- may stop the spread of lung cancer and lead to new treatments for the deadly disease.

Diets rich in fiber and vegetables have been associated with a reduced risk of cancer. This year more than 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 500,000 Americans will die of cancer, according to the CDC. An estimated 32% of these deaths may be related to diet.

Researchers showed that mice fed the compounds from broccoli, known as isothiocyanates, were less likely to develop lung cancer after exposure to cancer-causing tobacco smoke.

In addition, human lung cancer cells treated with the compounds died off at a faster rate than untreated cells, which may lead to a slower progression of existing disease.

Researchers say it's the first study to suggest that treatment with isothiocyanates can slow the progression of lung cancer as well as reduce the risk of tumors in people already exposed to cancer-causing substances, such as tobacco smoke.

Vegetable Guidelines

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines say Americans should eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The CDC and the National Cancer Institute also say that eating more fruits and vegetables, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber, may reduce the risk of getting cancer and other chronic diseases.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among American adults, and the disease is considered virtually unbeatable once a tumor develops.

In two related studies, published in the journal Cancer Research, researchers looked at the effects of isothiocyanates on both lung cancer prevention and treatment.

Veggies May Prevent Lung Cancer

In the first study, researchers exposed mice to lung cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) in tobacco. Later, one group of mice was fed the vegetable compounds. After examining the lungs of all the mice the researchers found that mice fed the broccoli ingredient were less likely to develop lung tumors than the untreated mice.

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