Vegetables Against Cancer
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Vegetables Against Cancer

Several vegetables provide protection against cancer. But how do the do it? New research has shed some new light on this question.

Which Vegetables?

It has been known for some time that certain vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and watercress, appear to prevent cancer growth. These vegetables contain chemical substances known as isothiocyanates (or ICT’s), and it seem to be these ICT’s that have cancer inhibiting properties. However, up until recently, it was still not known how they do this exactly.

Another important player in the cancer prevention process is the protein known as p53, which has an important part in keeping the cells healthy. More specifically, it prevents cells from growing uncontrollably, which is typical for cancer. In almost half of all human tumors, p53 appears to be mutated and no longer capable to perform its protective duties.

How Do They Do It?

Recent research has brought these two important defenders against cancer together. Through researching the effects of the ICT’s mentioned above on several types of cancer cells (such as lung, breast and colon cancer cells), the researchers were able to find a process involving both ICT’s and p53.

It turns out that the ICT’s are capable of binding with the mutated form of the p53 protein, rendering it utterly harmless.

Cooking Right

Here, it is certainly worth mentioning that a lot of people thwart the cancer inhibiting effect of the aforementioned vegetables by not cooking them right.

These vegetables release a substance known as sulforaphane when glucosinolates interact with an enzyme that is called myrosinase. This myrosinase increases the degradation rate of poisonous and cancer-causing substances in the body.

Sadly, myrosinase is often completely destroyed by cooking the vegetables too long. A much better option is to steam the vegetables for two to four minutes and adding broccoli shoots to the meal, as they are filled to the brim with myrosinase and double the anti-cancer effect. By adding a mustard sauce, this extra effect can be even further increase, as it contains additional sulforaphane.


  • Higdon, J.V.; Delage, B.; Williams, D.E. & Dashwood, R.H. (2007). Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacological Research. 55(3), pp. 224 – 236.
  • Mutanen, M.; Niku, M. & Oikarinen, S. (2011). Green Leafy Vegetables in Cancer Prevention. Diet and Cancer. Doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-9800-9_2.
  • Tang, L.; Zirpoli, G.R.; Guru, K.; Moysich, K.B.; Zhang, Y.; Ambrosone, C.B. & McCann, S.E. (2010). Intake of Cruciferous Vegetables Modifies Bladder Cancer Survival. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 19(7), pp. 1806 – 1811.
  • Thomson, C.A., Dickinson, S. & Bowden, G.T. (2010). Cruciferous Vegetables, Isothiocyanates, Indoles and Cancer Prevention. Nutrition and Health Series. 4, pp. 535 – 566.

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Comments (2)

Quite interesting, informative and useful too.Thanks.

great article, but i think you title should read vegetable that fight off cancer