Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast

Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast
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In a test tube, the broccoli phytonutrient sulforaphane appears to target breast cancer stem cells. But how do we know it’s even absorbed into the body? Have women undergoing breast reduction surgery eat some an hour before their operation, and directly measure the level in their tissues.

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Broccoli and broccoli sprouts produce a compound, sulforaphane,  that appears to target breast cancer cells. But this is in a test tube. How do we even know we absorb sulforaphane into our bloodstream when we eat broccoli? And even if we do, how much do we have to eat to arrive at these test tube concentrations where it counts—in breast tissue itself, where a tumor may be evolving?

An innovative group at Hopkins figured it out. Let’s find women scheduled for breast reduction surgery, and an hour before they go into the operating room, have them drink some broccoli sprout juice. And that’s what they did.

They collected breast tissue from eight women an hour after broccoli, and here’s what they found. An average of 2 picomoles per milliliter in their left breasts, and 1.45 in their right.

So now, for the first time ever, not only do we know that the broccoli we eat ends up in the right place, but we know the final tissue concentration.

So what does that correspond to here? This is what broccoli sprouts do to both estrogen-receptor-positive and -negative breast cancer cells. To continually bathe the tissues of one’s breast at this concentration, you’d have to eat a quarter cup of broccoli sprouts a day, a half a cup, and about a cup and a quarter. In other words it’s doable—I just put them in my salad.

Real world effects at real world doses.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to julie gibbons / flickr

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts produce a compound, sulforaphane,  that appears to target breast cancer cells. But this is in a test tube. How do we even know we absorb sulforaphane into our bloodstream when we eat broccoli? And even if we do, how much do we have to eat to arrive at these test tube concentrations where it counts—in breast tissue itself, where a tumor may be evolving?

An innovative group at Hopkins figured it out. Let’s find women scheduled for breast reduction surgery, and an hour before they go into the operating room, have them drink some broccoli sprout juice. And that’s what they did.

They collected breast tissue from eight women an hour after broccoli, and here’s what they found. An average of 2 picomoles per milliliter in their left breasts, and 1.45 in their right.

So now, for the first time ever, not only do we know that the broccoli we eat ends up in the right place, but we know the final tissue concentration.

So what does that correspond to here? This is what broccoli sprouts do to both estrogen-receptor-positive and -negative breast cancer cells. To continually bathe the tissues of one’s breast at this concentration, you’d have to eat a quarter cup of broccoli sprouts a day, a half a cup, and about a cup and a quarter. In other words it’s doable—I just put them in my salad.

Real world effects at real world doses.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to julie gibbons / flickr

Doctor's Note

This is a follow-up to Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells.

Note that the sources for this video are open access, so you can click on them in the Sources Cited section, above, and read them full-text for free.

Worried about the safety of sprouts? You’re probably thinking about alfalfa. See my videos: Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts, and Update on Alfalfa Sprouts. Broccoli sprouts appear much safer; see Broccoli Sprouts

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer Stem Cells vs. BroccoliAre Microgreens Healthier?; and Prevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens Necessary

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

 

26 responses to “Sulforaphane: From Broccoli to Breast

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  1. This is a follow-up to yesterday’s video-of-the-day Broccoli Versus Cancer Stem Cells. Note that the sources for this video are all open access, so you can click on them above in the Sources Cited section and read them full-text for free. Worried about the safety of sprouts? You’re probably thinking about alfalfa. See my videos Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts and Update on Alfalfa Sprouts. Broccoli sprouts appear much safer. See Broccoli Sprouts. And if that isn’t enough, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.




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  2. Yes! I love broccoli sprouts every day. So doable. So easy to grow your own — no mess or outside gardening required. :^) One of the most powerful foods is the most easily accessible to anyone in their own home!




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    1. Poxacuatl: I had heard of broccoli before, of course. But I had never heard of broccoli sprouts before – let alone known that they were easy to grow. I am going to look into this. I really appreciate you taking the time to write your post.

      Do you have a recommendation on where to get seeds or potted sprouts and how to grow them???

      Thanks!




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  3. Great real world information at the everyday practical application.

    I wonder if this information could also be extrapolated for prostate and other cancer locations. Also curious as to the possibility of fat present when the broccoli sprouts are consumed…..if the phytonutrient absorption would be further increased, as with antioxidants and greens (kale, spinach, etc.).

    Thank you Dr Greger, terrific work as always.




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  4. Can you translate broccoli sprouts to broccoli. What is the effective quantity of broccoli that offers the benefits derived from broccoli sprouts.




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  5. I work in a clinic focused mostly on cancer. Some of my clients are vegan and still pass away, even after being vegan for a while. And, these are not high fat gourmet raw vegans, they have actually trained in places like Hippocrates. What are other factors? These people do not eat processed foods at all, they are raw. Their omega 3:6 ratio is good and B12 is good. Some had and corrected extremely low vitamin D but still pass away. Any references or additional places to look for ansers? For the broccoli, all breast cancer patients are recommended brocolli sprouts too but some sitll do not make it.




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  6. How long between application of sulforaphane and effect of cancer cell reduction. Would like the time span for the first and last slides please.




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  7. I had breast cancer and had to have both breast removed in 1999. Do you believe that broccoli can prevent me from having another bout of breast cancer. I had both breast removed and reconstruction. I was told that if it did come back that it would appear in the wall of my breast.




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    1. Judy: I’m sorry to hear about all of the health problems you have had. Certainly you have had enough!

      re: “Do you believe that broccoli can prevent me from having another bout of breast cancer.”
      What we tend to see is that a healthy diet is not a guarantee of a healthy outcome – but it greatly lowers your risk of repeat problems. For example, just because a person doesn’t smoke, they could still get lung cancer. But not smoking sure does lower the risk of getting lung cancer.

      What do you have to loose from eating your broccoli this way? (Or check out the newer video on broccoli and a different method: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/second-strategy-to-cooking-broccoli/) If it were me, I would not put all of my eggs in one basket. Instead, I would get all of the cancer tips on this site and put them all into practice. I would want to maximize my body’s ability to fight cancer. This site not only covers broccoli, but so many other foods and topics in regards to cancer. You can learn what to stay away from (meat, dairy and eggs, etc) as well as what to focus on (broccoli, traditional soy, etc).
      http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=cancer

      I’m not a doctor or an expert. I’m just sharing my opinion. But it seems to me that you could take a lot of steps in your diet to help maximize your chances of a cancer-free future. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for you.




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  8. I wonder, since these ar the equivalent of so much mroe broccoli, would they also be an equivalent of the gastrointesetinal distress that I experience when I consume broccoli? Or would broccoli as sprouts be digested more easily?




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    1. Hi,

      I believe – based on my own experience – that the sprouts affect the GI tract in a milder manner. Sulforaphane, albeit a potent phytochemical, is by far not the only active one in broccoli, so the cause of your GI distress following broccoli ingestion may not even be the compound itself – consequently, the sprouts’ high sulforaphane concentration may not be of concern to you at all. This is just my deductive opinion, though – you have to try some yourself to know for sure, I guess.




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  9. i need to ask for help, this study seems to suggest that sulforaphane is contained in sprout juice right? i understand i loose fiber but juice may be the only way i can get the sulforaphane into my autistic children. have you seen anything suggesting the sulforaphane is attached to the fiber?




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  10. I have just watched a video on YouTube with Dr Rhonda Patrick and Dr Jed Fahey. Dr Fahey has done a great deal of research on sulforaphine, according to him the seeds have even more potential than broccoli sprouts, the downside is that they cannot be cooked and are bitter to taste. Not to be deterred I ground some and tasted them. Not so bad I thought, not remotely close to Amla. So I put them in some hummus and had them as a snack. Anyone else tried them???




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