Transcript: Prolonged Liver Function Enhancement from Broccoli
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
This study on cooked meat and the risk of breast cancer in Long Island women added to “the accumulating evidence that consumption of meats cooked by methods that promote carcinogen formation may increase [the] risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.” But, it also offered a clue as to how we may be able to mediate that risk.
A “[m]odest increased risk was [found in older women eating] “the most grilled or barbecued and smoked meats over” their lifetime—about 47% increased odds of breast cancer. But, those same women, who also had a low fruit and vegetable intake, had a higher odds ratio of 1.74—74% greater odds. Now, low fruit and vegetable consumption may just be a marker for unhealthy habits in general, but maybe there’s something in fruits and vegetables that’s protective.
Check out this fascinating study. To review: ”The consumption of cooked meat appears to predispose individuals to…cancer,” whereas the “[c]onsumption of cruciferous vegetables is thought to protect against cancer.” If you remember, it’s because cabbage family vegetables boost the activity of the detoxifying enzymes in our livers.
For example, if you feed people broccoli and Brussels sprouts, they clear caffeine quicker—meaning, if you eat a lot of these healthy vegetables, you have to drink more coffee to get the same buzz, because your liver is so revved up. Same thing with cooked meat carcinogens. If you have a side of broccoli with your meat, you can significantly decrease carcinogen levels in your body.
What they did is they started out with study “subjects consuming cooked meat meals containing known amounts of these carcinogens,” and this is the amount of the carcinogens they were absorbing into their bloodstream, and then peeing out. In period two, they ate the same amount of meat, but added broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Notice there’s a significant drop in the amount of these meat mutagens circulating within their bodies—even though they ate the same amount of meat. Now, this wasn’t a surprise; I mean, that’s what cruciferous vegetables do, right?Boost our liver’s ability to clear chemicals from our bodies.
But, this is what blew them away. In period three—again, same amount of meat— but they took away the veggies. Yet their liver function appeared to remain enhanced, two weeks later. So, there appears to be a prolonged beneficial effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption.
So, you can eat broccoli days or even weeks before the big barbeque, and still retain a little protection. Though, of course, if you eat grilled veggie burgers instead, it would be even better, at that barbecue, as apparently no matter how you cook plant-based foods—even if you deep fry them—no detectable heterocyclic amines are formed.
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