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Functional Ingredients

A cancer-fighting broccoli mouthwash?

Recent human, animal and lab research show that a compound derived from broccoli extract may help fight head and neck cancer.

One day, a broccoli mouthwash may help defend people against recurring head and neck cancer. While the flavor may take some getting used to, the cancer-fighting powers of the cruciferous veggie would make swishing with sprouts worth it, based on recent research.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute demonstrated the cancer-fighting powers of broccoli sprout extract in human, animal and lab tests.
"With head and neck cancer, we often clear patients of cancer only to see it come back with deadly consequences a few years later," lead author Julie Bauman, M.D., M.P.H., co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence, said in a university release published on "Unfortunately, previous efforts to develop a preventative drug to reduce this risk have been inefficient, intolerable in patients and expensive. That led us to 'green chemoprevention'—the cost-effective development of treatments based upon whole plants or their extracts."
Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have a high concentration of the compound sulforaphane, which previous research has shown may protect against people against environmental carcinogens. In the new trials, researchers found that sulforaphane kicks up cells’ production of a protein that turns on genes that help detox carcinogens. Their findings were published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. Encouraged by broccoli’s potency, the researchers have started a larger trial with humans.
"Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the U.S., but that burden is far greater in many developing countries," said Bauman. "A preventative drug created from whole plants or their extracts may ease the costs of production and distribution, and ultimately have a huge positive impact on mortality and quality of life in people around the world."

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