An anti-cancer compound in broccoli and cabbage, indole-3-carbinol, is undergoing clinical trials in men with prostate cancer and women with breast cancer because it was found to stop the growth of these cancers in mice.
Now scientists have discovered more about how it works. They’ve found that in breast cancer it lowers the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing cancer growth, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study appearing this week in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The new findings are claimed as the first to explain how indole-3-carbinol (I3C) stops cell growth. This new understanding is expected to speed designs for improved versions of the chemical that would be more effective as a drug and could work against a broader range of breast as well as prostate tumors.
Scientists in China, Taiwan, and Ohio, USA have created a high-power version of a cabbage-family chemical, which they hope may turn out to be strong enough to fight prostate cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol is a well known product of the breakdown of a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, which are the large family of vegetables that have leaves arranged in a “cross” pattern. Cruciferous vegetables, also called brassicae, include broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnip (greens) and watercress.
Indole-3-carbinol is considered a “promising chemopreventive agent which has shown efficacy against tumors in various tests on animals,” the researchers say.
However, indole-3-carbinol breaks down rapidly in the human digestive system and is too weak to have much impact on existing tumors. It has only “weak antiproliferative potency and is unstable in acidic milieu.”
Researchers exploring the notion that certain nutrients might
protect against pancreatic cancer found that lean individuals who got
most of these nutrients from food were protected against developing
cancer. The study also suggests this protective effect does not hold true
if the nutrients come from vitamin supplements.
Dr. Gary Stoner, a researcher in chemoprevention, is currently conducting several trials evaluating black raspberry supplements as a way to prevent or slow the growth of colon and other cancers. He and other scientists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have been researching the anticancer properties of berries for nearly 20 years.