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Can cabbage help prevent cervical cancer?


Did your grandmother always tell you to "eat up your greens"? It appears that she may have known something scientists are only now discovering. When the substances produced in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, sprouts or cauliflower are eaten, they could help in the fight against cancer.

A research team headed by Professor Alison Fiander, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the Wales College Of Medicine, Cardiff University in the UKare asking women in Wales to help find out if one of these substances holds the key to cancer prevention.

A clinical trial is underway to determine if taking this substance as a food supplement reduces the incidence of cervical abnormalities. The supplement is called Diindolylmethane (DIM for short) and seems to exert its effect by modifying the breakdown products of oestrogen in the body and by inducing abnormal cells to self destruct.

To obtain enough DIM to benefit, at least two raw heads of cabbage would need to be eaten daily. The trial uses a capsule containing DIM, already available as a herbal remedy in the United States. The makers of this capsule in America also claim that it may help with pre-menstrual syndrome but side effects include aggravation of migraines and an increase in intestinal gas (!)

The trial is sponsored by Cancer Research UK and is being run in conjunction with Dr Hilary Fielder Director Cervical Screening Wales Cervical Screening Wales. All women in the area who have either a second borderline or mildly abnormal cervical smear will be invited by letter to participate. The trial will involve taking DIM daily for six months whilst waiting for your next smear. Clinics will be held in the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

At the moment only women with borderline or mildly abnormal smears are being invited to participate, however, if a positive result is seen the research may be extended to include different groups of women, for example those with more severe abnormalities on their cervical smear. Participation in this trial is entirely voluntary.

Natalie Grimshare | EurekAlert!
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