December 15, 2008

Veggies Stopping Cancer

An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by blocking a key enzyme associated with rapidly advancing cancer.

The compound found in the veggies, indole-3-carbinol, is already in human clinical trials because of its ability to stop breast and prostate cancer growth in mice. The new findings are the first to explain how indole-3-carbinol stops cell growth.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, showed that indole-3-carbinol inhibits the enzyme elastase. Elastase at high levels has been linked to a poor prognosis, decreased response to chemotherapy, reduced response to endocrine treatment and a reduced survival rate in patients with breast cancer.

These new findings could lead to the development of an improved version of the chemical that could be used as a drug to work against breast and prostate cancer tumors.

"Humans have co-evolved with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, so this natural source had a lot fewer side effects," study coauthor Gary Firestone, UC Berkley professor of molecular and cell biology, was quoted as saying.

Indole-3-carbinol is only one of many plant-derived chemicals that Firestone is investigating in his laboratory as potential anti-cancer agents.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online Dec. 5, 2008


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