A research team from the University of Michigan has reportedly found that sulforaphane, a compound derived from broccoli and broccoli sprouts, may help prevent or even treat breast cancer by targeting and killing stem cells that are responsible for the growth of a tumor.
Currently, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are rarely successful in combating cancer stem cells, which is the reason why women who are afflicted with the disease often experience metastasis and cancer recurrence.
For the study, lead author Max Wicha and his colleagues from the university’s Comprehensive Cancer Center injected different concentrations of sulforaphane into lab mice that were genetically programmed to have breast cancer. After a period of follow-up, the researchers identified a significant decrease in cancer stem cells in mice that were given high levels of the nutrient.
"This research suggests a potential new treatment that could be combined with other compounds to target breast cancer stem cells," said Wicha. "Developing treatments that effectively target the cancer stem cell population is essential for improving outcomes."
While sulforaphane extract is available in the form of a nutritional supplement, the study’s authors are not encouraging patients to take the compound until the results are confirmed in a human trial.