FIVE Ways in Which Cruciferous Vegetables Work Against Cancer
I’ve always wondered what makes cruciferous vegetables such champions in the cancer fighting world! Before I delved into researching this question, I had come across a lot of information about the powerful effects of cruciferous vegetables.
I figured a PubMed search on the topic of cruciferous vegetables and cancer was in order, and here’s what I found…
The cancer health benefits come from the breakdown (by enzymes within the plant and in our gut) of sulphur-compounds called glucosinolates that live inside the cruciferous veggies.
These glucosinolates break down to some very potent plant chemicals (also known as phytochemicals) within cruciferous vegetables. You may have heard of some of the more popular ones called indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.
Some commonly consumed CV include:
So, how do these phytochemicals actually work against cancer cells? Here are FIVE ways that I came across:
1. Cruciferous veggies can interfere with the conversion of inactive cancer-causing agents to active cancer-causing agents… they do this by inhibiting the enzymes that are responsible for this biotransformation. This prevents active cancer-causing agents from binding to our DNA and inducing mutations.
2. Cruciferous veggies increase production of enzymes in the body called phase 2 enzymes… phase 2 enzymes protect cells from DNA damage due to cancer-causing agents by binding to them and removing them from the body.
3. Cruciferous veggies may inhibit the invasion of normal tissue by cancer cells by stopping angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is a process which cancer cells use to develop new blood vessels to bring in nutrients and remove waste, in order to help them grow and spread.
4. Cruciferous veggies may increase the production of tumor suppressor proteins leading to apoptosis (or death) of precancerous cells.
5. Cruciferous veggies decrease inflammation in the body by decreasing secretion of inflammatory signaling molecules by white blood cells. Inflammation increases risk of developing cancer by promoting cellular proliferation and inhibiting apoptosis.
BONUS: And, here’s another way in which cruciferous veggies may work against cancer cells - Cruciferous veggies may have anti-viral and antibacterial effects, including against the human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer.
The National Cancer Institute recommends 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day… this equals around 2 ½ to 4 ½ cups of these yummy veggies.
Although there’s no clear evidence guiding us on how much cruciferous vegetables we should be eating, there are some prospective cohort studies out there that recommend adults should aim for 5 weekly servings.
How many servings of cruciferous veggies do you eat in a week?
If you’d like to learn more about how diet plays a role in cancer recovery, check out my signature program that goes through the four key pillars you must address to encourage cancer recovery!
Hint… one of these four key pillars is DIET… the other three are environmental influences, lifestyle factors and psychosocial aspects!
I’ve taken all my research on diet, environment, lifestyle and mind-body and put it into a very comprehensive program which will help you create your own cancer recovery plan. If you want to take your recovery from cancer to the next level, click on the image below.
Also, if you want to join a free community of people with cancer looking for holistic and integrative strategies to encourage cancer recovery CLICK THIS LINK to join the Holistic Strategies for Cancer Recovery Facebook group to help support your journey and connect you with likeminded people.
- Higdon J, Delage B, Williams DE, Dashwood RH. Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 March; 55(3): 224-236
- Hayes JD, Kelleher MO, Eggleston IM. The cancer chemopreventive actions of phytochemicals derived from glucosinolates. European Journal of Nutrition 2008;47 Suppl 2:73-88.
- Patra S, Nayak R, Patro S, et al. Chemical diversity of dietary phytochemicals and their mode of chemoprevention. Biotechnol Rep (Amst) 2021 May 18;30:e00633. Doi: 10.1016/j.btre.2021.e00633. eCollection 2021 Jun.
- Rahman KM, Li Y, Sarkar FH. Inactivation of Akt and NF-κB plays important roles during I3C-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Nutr Cancer 2004;48:84–94