Broccoli and breast cancer prevention

BroccoliAn amazing amount of research has been undertaken in recent years, to discover the hidden talents of broccoli and the other members of the cruciferous family in relation to their anti-cancer properties.

What makes broccoli so great?

Broccoli has demonstrated remarkable potential for the treatment of cancerous conditions, particularly breast cancer. A compound known as indole-3-carbinol significantly increases the metabolic excretion of oestrogen, and blocks oestrogen receptors that are linked to the development of malignant breast tumours, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer.

Broccoli also contains other compounds that are cancer protective, including:


These compounds prevent the spread of cancer in 3 main ways:

–          They prevent the activation of carcinogens.

–          They counteract toxins released by carcinogenic products.

–          They enable quicker and more efficient removal of these compounds from the body, via detoxification processes.[1]

Another active compound includes sulforaphane, well-known for its cancer protective properties. Research studies have provided proof that sulforaphane interacts directly with breast tissue, protecting it from developing cancerous lesions. It has been shown to have anti-cancer activity in relation to bladder, ovarian, prostate, liver, colon cancer and leukaemia.[2]


Boosts DNA repair of cells, preventing cell damage and cancer growth. Aids in regulation of the immune system, providing anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties.

The indole group includes indole-3-carbinol, and diindolymethane (DIM), which have been shown to have numerous advantageous effects, including:

–          Antioxidant effects, protecting cells and DNA from damage that can result in cancer.

–          Anti-tumour effects that stop tumour cells from multiplying or even mutating in the first place.


Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is specifically being examined for its use in oestrogen dependent breast and ovarian  cancers. I3C has the following benefits:

–          Converts oestrogen from its most active (and inflammatory) form, to lesser forms.

–          Blocks tissue oestrogen receptor sites and other receptor sites that stimulate cance  growth.

–          Direct anti-cancer activity on cancerous cells.[3]

Eat more broccoli!

The magnificent properties of broccoli and the other members of the cruciferous family should not be overlooked. Although there are many supplements that contain either the single actives or the whole product, the best way to get these health benefits is simply to eat more of it!

However, making sure that it is cooked correctly is essential to maintain as many of the nutrients as possible. Generally, any kind of heat will start to disassociate nutrients, so cooking broccoli for as little time as possible is advised. Steaming is usually the best option.


Key words: Cancer, breast cancer, broccoli, cruciferous vegetables, detoxification, oestrogen metabolism


[2] Weber, D. (2014) Botanical Oncology; isolates – An Oriental and Western Approach to Herbal Compounds in Cancer Care. Panaxea Publishing. Sydney