Chemical properties of broccoli may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a study published in Molecular Cancer (2010 Jul 13;9(1):189. [Epub ahead of print]).

The study, led by Richard Mithen from the Institute of Food Research, focused on the interaction between sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli, and cells lacking a gene called PTEN in pre-malignant prostate tissue. Involved in the study were 21 volunteers who had previously received a diagnosis of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN).

The results of the study revealed that in cells that expressed PTEN, dietary intervention with sulforaphane had no effect on the development of cancer. However, in cells that didn’t express the gene, sulforaphane caused them to become less competitive.

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According to the study’s authors, the results of the study provide an explanation of how consuming broccoli can reduce the risk of prostate cancer incidence and progression.

“Here, we clearly demonstrate that sulforaphane interacts with PTEN-deficient cells and tissues to modulate gene expression and alternative splicing events,” the authors concluded. “This may explain how diets rich in broccoli, the dietary source of sulforaphane, can reduce the risk of incidence of prostate cancer and the progression of localized prostate cancer to more aggressive forms of this disease.”