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Liver Toxicity Due to Broccoli Juice?

6,000 cups of broccoli a year is probably too much.

March 15, 2012 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

Saw CL, Huang MT, Liu Y, Khor TO, Conney AH, Kong AN. Impact of Nrf2 on UVB-induced skin inflammation/photoprotection and photoprotective effect of sulforaphane. Mol Carcinog. 2011 Jun;50(6):479-86. doi: 10.1002/mc.20725.

Facchini A, Stanic I, Cetrullo S, Borzì RM, Filardo G, Flamigni F. Sulforaphane protects human chondrocytes against cell death induced by various stimuli. J Cell Physiol. 2011 Jul;226(7):1771-9. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22506.

Wang X, Govind S, Sajankila SP, Mi L, Roy R, Chung FL. Phenethyl isothiocyanate sensitizes human cervical cancer cells to apoptosis induced by cisplatin. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Oct;55(10):1572-81. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201000560.

Healy ZR, Liu H, Holtzclaw WD, Talalay P. Inactivation of tautomerase activity of macrophage migration inhibitory factor by sulforaphane: a potential biomarker for anti-inflammatory intervention. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Jul;20(7):1516-23.

Kaminski BM, Weigert A, Brüne B, Schumacher M, Wenzel U, Steinhilber D, Stein J, Ulrich S. Sulforaphane potentiates oxaliplatin-induced cell growth inhibition in colorectal cancer cells via induction of different modes of cell death. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2011 May;67(5):1167-78.

Sharma C, Sadrieh L, Priyani A, Ahmed M, Hassan AH, Hussain A. Anti-carcinogenic effects of sulforaphane in association with its apoptosis-inducing and anti-inflammatory properties in human cervical cancer cells. Cancer Epidemiol. 2011 Jun;35(3):272-8.

Ekiz F, Yuksel I, Kertmen N, Yuksel O. Liver toxicity due to broccoli juice. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Jul;22(7):898.


Image thanks to joannaverdan.


Targeting cancer stem cells, protecting DNA doesn’t even scratch the surface of what broccoli sprouts appear capable of. Here’s a sampling published just in one random month: anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, another anti-inflammatory, may protect against colorectal cancer, help fight cervical cancer. may protect against sunburn for goodness sake, and protect cartilage. And that’s just one month in the medical journals.
What’s the catch? There has to be a downside.
Well, in Turkey, recently, a report of liver toxicity thought due to juiced broccoli. 56 year old woman drinking about 3 and half cups of broccoli juice a day for a month.
A commentator balked at the assumption that that the broccoli juice per se was responsible for liver toxicity, suggesting that a more likely possibility is that the pesticide residue levels in such a large daily quantity of the vegetable were such that they adversely affected her liver cells. Three and a half cups of juice is like the equivalent of eating 18 cups of broccoli a day. 18 cups times 4 weeks. That’s 500 cups of broccoli. Even if it were organic broccoli, 500 cups a month is a lot of broccoli.
This was just a case report. Thankfully formal human toxicity studies have been done. Here for example they gave some volunteers a week of broccoli sprout extract equaling the sulforaphane content of about two dozen cups of broccoli a day and, no problems were found.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

There is also the issue of the goitrogenic compounds in raw cruciferous. See my video Overdosing on Greens. We can also drink too much tea (seeOverdosing on Tea), eat too much of the spice turmeric (see Oxalates in Cinnamon), too much of the seaweed kelp (see Too Much Iodine Can Be As Bad As Too Little), and overdo coffee when pregnant (see Caffeine During Pregnancy). And that's just a smattering of the hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: The Best Detox and Broccoli Boosts Liver Detox Enzymes

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    There is also the issue of the goitrogenic compounds in raw cruciferous. See my video Overdosing on Greens. We can also drink too much tea (see Overdosing on Tea), eat too much of the spice turmeric (see Oxalates in Cinnamon), too much of the seaweed kelp (see Too Much Iodine Can Be As Bad As Too Little), and overdo coffee when pregnant (see Caffeine During Pregnancy). And that’s just a smattering of the hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

  • Matt

    Could this be vitamin A toxicity?

  • Darryl Roy

    More is not always better. Some phytochemicals work (at normal consumption levels) by stressing our cells slightly, causing a protective response.

    There’s a whopper of a series of videos one could do on hormetic effects (low-dose good, high dose toxic) of phytonutrients. Many of the protective plants noted by Dr. Greger so far seem to activate the cellular Nrf2 signalling pathway, causing production of hundreds of protective and repair enzymes. Just from this somewhat dated but excellent review:

    sulforaphane (cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale), curcumin (tumeric), EGCG (green but not black tea), diallyl sulfide, diallyl trisulfide, s-allylcysteine (garlic), resveratrol (grapes & wine), lycopene (tomatoes), capsaicin (hot pepper), piperine (black pepper), carnosol (rosemary), cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon), cafestol, kahweol (coffee), chalcone (citrus, apples, tomatoes, shallots, bean sprouts), xanthohumol (hops), eupatilin (terragon), isoorientin (acai), quercetin (red onions, watercress, kale, berries, sweet potatoes).

    all induce activation of the Nrf2 antioxidant response/repair axis, and are hence “sensed” by the cells as stressors. It may well be these phytochemicals’ stressor effect rather than their in vitro antioxidant capacity that accounts for their health benefits. A number of them (tumeric, tea catechins) are known to be hormetic: toxins at very large (concentrated supplement) doses.

    In line with a common refrain of Dr. Greger’s, its likely better to get them in food rather than pills – its one way to keep dosing in the hormetic range.

    There are presently 29,000 articles on referencing Nrf2, 16,000 in just the past five years. But while the subject is a very deep one, it also, brings a bit of simplicity and order to the question of why so many plant foods have protective and theraputic effects, at normal food doses.

  • Burt

    Hi .. I had to listen to this twice. It sounds like you’re saying there’s NOT a problem with drinking that much broccoli juice (2, 3 cups or so per day), correct? The video started out sounding like it could cause problems, then you refer to formal study, which said there weren’t any problems. Can you please clarify … Asking because I’m thinking about doing a regular broccoli juice routine. Thank you ..

    • Wegan

      The last part was talking about sprout extract. Eat it whole and you’ll be fine.

  • Juicy

    This video is mesleading and unclear.they make it sound dangerous at the first part then suddenly they will say its ok to drink brocoli juice even though u overdose..duh