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The Benefits of Eating Broccoli

Eat broccoli and you could ward off herpes.

Preliminary lab studies of monkey and human cells conducted by researchers at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown, Ohio show that a compound found naturally in broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts-- indole-3-carbinol--may be a key to inhibiting the herpes simplex virus. And it works really well. The compound blocked the virus from reproducing by an amazing 99.9 percent--essentially 100 percent effectiveness.

The indole-3-carbinol compound works by interfering with factors that help cells reproduce. It inhibits the herpes simplex virus in the same way, since the virus needs those same factors as the cells to reproduce.

Herpes differs markedly from other viruses. Once a person contracts it, the virus lives in the body for a lifetime. The American Social Health Association estimates that as many as 80 percent of adults in the United States have oral herpes, while 20 percent have genital herpes. Fully 90 percent are unaware they have the virus. There is no cure.

While this research news is promising, caution is advised until further studies are done. What works in the lab doesn't always work on humans in the real world. Still, eating more broccoli is a good idea not only to prevent herpes, but also to possibly ward off cancer, cataracts, and stroke.

The research findings were presented to the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.



Stopping Breast Cancer Cold

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have determined that a compound found in broccoli and Brussels sprouts, called sulforaphane, hinders the growth of human breast cancer cells in the laboratory.

This magic bullet worked by disrupting the action of protein "microtubules" within the cancer cells, which are vital for the success of cell division and growth. What is most intriguing about this finding is that certain cancer drugs work in a similar way. That means it's quite possible that sulforaphane could be used in combination with other compounds or drugs to prevent and treat cancer.

This isn't the first time scientists have shown sulforaphane helps prevent cancer. Previous research has also proven that the compound blocks the formation of breast tumors in rats, and it can even force colon cancer cells to commit cell suicide. It seems that sulforaphane works its magic on the detoxification enzymes that try to defend the cancer-promoting substances.

This latest research suggests there is a new mechanism for sulforaphane to battle cancer cells called microtubule disruption. And that is what co-study author Dr. Keith Singletary, a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, finds most intriguing since microtubule disruption is exactly how certain types of cancer drugs work. What if those cancer drugs were combined with sulforaphane to work in combination for an even more powerful effect?

So the big question remains: If you eat a diet that is rich in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and other sulforaphane-containing foods, will your risk for developing breast cancer decrease? Scientists aren't ready to say that. However, numerous studies have linked a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits to a lower risk of cancer, including breast cancer. What still is not known is which specific vegetables work best for preventing cancer.

That said, it won't hurt you to load up on broccoli, and it may very well be a lifesaving side dish you enjoy with dinner tonight.

The study findings have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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