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Broccoli sprouts may prevent stomach cancer by defeating Helicobacter pylori

Three-day-old broccoli sprouts, a widely available human food, suppressed Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections, according to a report in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. H. pylori infections are one of the most common bacterial infections worldwide and are a major cause of stomach cancer.

The cancer protective effects of sulforaphane, a phytochemical from broccoli, have been known for almost two decades, but this is the first study to show an effect of broccoli in humans on the bacterial infection that leads to stomach cancer.

In this study, researchers enrolled 48 Helicobacter-infected Japanese men and women and randomly assigned them to eat 70 grams of fresh broccoli sprouts daily for eight weeks or an equivalent amount of alfalfa sprouts.

"Broccoli has recently entered the public awareness as a preventive dietary agent. This study supports the emerging evidence that broccoli sprouts may be able to prevent cancer in humans, not just in lab animals," said Jed Fahey, Sc.D., a faculty research associate in the Department of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Researchers assessed the severity of H. pylori infection at enrollment, and again at four and eight weeks using standard breath, serum and stool tests. H. pylori levels were significantly lower at eight weeks on all three measures among those patients who had eaten broccoli sprouts, while they remained the same for patients who had eaten alfalfa sprouts.

A reduction in H. pylori is expected to lead to a reduction in stomach cancer due to their well-established cause-and-effect link. Stomach cancer has a grim prognosis and is the second most common and the second deadliest cancer worldwide.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 28,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and 80 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The AACR's most recent publication and its sixth major journal, Cancer Prevention Research, is dedicated exclusively to cancer prevention, from preclinical research to clinical trials. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Jeremy Moore | EurekAlert!
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