The researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) conducted an experiment on laboratory rats with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. Trygve Tollefsbol and his team used epigenetics, the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off. (Related: Breast cancer cells controlled by lifestyle factors, plant nutrient combination and epigenetic changes.)
“One way we can use epigenetics as a powerful tool to fight cancer is through compounds found in our everyday diet,” Tollefsbol, study author and professor from the UAB, said in an article by Nutrition Insight.
He also said that one reason why some researchers avoid combining two or more compounds at a time for research on treatments is because of the fear of negative effects and unpredictable possible interactions.
The researchers fed the rats with two compounds: sulforaphane, which is found in cruciferous vegetables, such as brussel sprouts and polyphenols, which are found in green tea. They picked out the two compounds because they felt that the compounds would work well combined. Sulforaphane and polyphenols may both have biological effects, but still have diverse means for processing these effects that would not stand in the way of each other. In addition, the compounds are commonly found in the daily diet of people and are previously known to prevent cancers.
The compound sulforaphane “turns off” tumor genes that stimulate the development of cancer, while polyphenols have formerly been found to prevent and treat ER-negative breast cancer in rats.
Tollefsbol and his team discovered that the rats fed with the two compounds combined transformed aggressive breast cancer tumors into more treatable tumors. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables, and science now tells us she was right,” Tollefsbol said.
More on breast cancer
The study explained that breast cancers are either ER-positive or ER-negative. However, ER-negative cancer tumors are unresponsive to hormonal therapy compared to ER-positive cancer tumors, so the ER-negative cancer tumors are more aggressive.
“Unfortunately, there are few options for woman who develop ER-negative breast cancer,” Tollefsbol said.
He explained that because of the poor prognosis of ER-negative breast cancer, new discoveries in prevention and treatment of the disease have great importance.
“The results of this research provide a novel approach to preventing and treating ER-negative breast cancer, which currently takes hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide,” study author Yuanyuan Li said.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women next to lung cancer, and the chance of a woman dying from this cancer is about 2.7 percent or one in 37 women. For 2017, around 252,710 new occurrences of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in United States’ women and approximately 40,610 women will die from this type of cancer, according to the estimates of the American Cancer Society.
Other health benefits of sulforaphane and polyphenols
Aside from cancer prevention and treatment, sulforaphane also contains cellular antioxidant, protects the DNA, prevents H.pylori, a bacteria that causes gastric ulcers, stomach inflammation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people suffering from diabetes, as listed by HealthLine.com.
On the other hand, polyphenols contain antioxidants, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, support digestive system, lower blood sugar and risk of diabetes, improve bone health, reduce inflammation, aid in weight loss, and help slow cognitive decline, according to an article by NaturalNutrition.ca.
Read more news about natural cancer prevention at AntiCancer.news.