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Broccoli protects skin

Australia has the highest skin cancer incidence rate in the world. Australians are four times more likely to develop a skin cancer than any other form of cancer and approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, but it is the most life threatening form. In 2009 there were 11,545 new cases of melanoma and in2010 total deaths from melanoma were 1,452. Melanoma is also one of the most common cancers affecting youth in Australia. So finding easily accessible ways to prevent skin cancer is an understandable focus for researchers and it seems that broccoli may be an answer.

Research from the University of Arizona has focused on sulphorophane as a potential anti-skin cancer treatment. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts) are widely consumed in many parts of the world. Evidence from earlier studies shows that consumption of a diet rich in broccoli and its cousins reduces the risk of several types of cancers as well as some chronic degenerative diseases. There is growing evidence that the protective effects may be attributable largely to their content of glucosinolates that exist in the plant cells and are hydrolysed to bioactive isothiocyanates by an enzyme called myrosinase that is released from intracellular vesicles following crushing of the plant cells by chewing or food preparation.

The researchers from the University of Arizona have found that sulphorophane is effective at blocking cancer by actions like inhibiting the AP-1 protein and activating chemoprotective genes like the Nrf2 gene.

In their new study the researchers are currently testing a topical broccoli sprout solution to see if it protects humans against cancer pathways when exposed to artificial ultraviolet light. They have already shown the solution to be protective against sunburn and it has already been shown to be safe for use both on the skin and taken as a food or drink. Thus far the broccoli solution has been shown to generate protective enzymes in the skin. It is hoped that if the studies continue to prove positive that people with weaker immune systems may especially gain benefit.

It could be though that broccoli solutions will be the new sunscreen for everyone, or should we call it “sunbroc”?

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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