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DateLine Friday, 26 December 2008

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Certain vegetables combat cancer

While it has been known for some time that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, can help prevent breast cancer, the mechanism by which the active substances in these vegetables inhibit cell proliferation was unknown until now.

Scientists in University of California, Santa Barbara, reported that their new research has shown how the healing power of these vegetables works at the cellular level.

"Breast cancer can be protected against by eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and near relatives of cabbage such as broccoli and cauliflower," said first author Olga Azarenko.

"These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates which we believe to be responsible for the cancer-preventive and anti- carcinogenic activities in these vegetables."

Their research focuses on the anti-cancer activity of one of these compounds, called sulforaphane, or SFN. It has already been shown to reduce the incidence and rate of chemically induced mammary tumors in animals. It inhibits the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells, leading to cell death. The researchers made the surprising discovery that SFN inhibits the proliferation of human tumor cells by a mechanism similar to the way that the anticancer drugs taxol and vincristine inhibit cell division during mitosis. Xinhua

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