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Broccoli Compound Selectively Targets Cancer Cells

Sulforaphane, a primary phytochemical found in broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, is an inhibitor of histone deacetylase enzymes.

HDAC inhibition is an emerging field of cancer treatment and represents a promising pharmaceutical and dietary approach. Emily Ho, from Oregon State University, and colleagues have investigated the effects of sulforaphane in normal, benign hyperplasia and cancerous prostate epithelial cells. They observed that 15 micromoles of sulforaphane caused cell cycle arrest and cell death in benign hyperplasia and cancerous prostate epithelial cells, while it did not affect normal cells whatsoever.

Sulforaphane also selectively decreased HDAC enzyme activity. The researchers conclude that sulforaphane “exerts differential effects on cell proliferation, HDAC activity and downstream targets in normal and cancer cells.”

Clarke, J.D., et al. (2011). Differential effects of sulforaphane on histone deacetylases, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in normal prostate cells versus hyperplastic and cancerous prostate cells. Mol Nutr & Food Res. 55(7):999-1009.

—Dr. Bob Goldman


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