- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

Eat hearty but bring the breath mints: broccoli sprouts, sauerkraut and garlic are powerful cancer fighters, according to a group of studies released yesterday by the American Association for Cancer Research.

These foods and some of their cousins can prevent and even halt the growth of stomach, skin and breast cancers and can be helpful at any stage of life, said the 24,000-member Philadelphia-based group, which was founded in 1907.

Researchers from Japan’s University of Tsukuba found that frilly little broccoli sprouts, which taste like radishes, “significantly reduced” helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria in the stomach, thought to be a major factor in both peptic ulcer and stomach cancer. The sprouts even can “suppress and relieve the accompanying gastritis.”

The helpful chemical compound in the sprouts is sulforaphane, an anti-oxidant that attacks the bacterium in its earliest stages of growth.

The research teams tracked 20 patients with H. pylori infections who ate about seven tablespoons of the sprouts each day for two months. Through blood and breath tests, they found “significantly less” bacteria and pepsinogen, an indicator of gastric atrophy, a condition in which the stomach muscles shrink and weaken.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore also applauded broccoli sprouts yesterday, saying: “Eat them or wear them? That is the question.”

Working with Dr. Paul Talalay, clinical pharmacologist Albena Dinkova-Kostova developed a sprout extract to help skin damaged by sunburns.

“We weren’t looking for a sunscreen effect,” said Mrs. Dinkova-Kostova, adding that the extract could prove useful for those who grew up in a pre-sunscreen era.

She applied the extract to mice exposed to light comparable to what a person would receive at a sunny beach twice weekly for 20 weeks. A distressing 100 percent of the mice receiving a minimal amount of the extract developed skin cancer. Among those with a higher amount of the extract, the number of tumors was reduced by half.

“Our findings suggest a promising strategy for skin cancer prevention after exposure to [ultraviolet] light,” said Mrs. Dinkova-Kostova, again citing the benefits of sulforaphane.

Sauerkraut, meanwhile, may protect women from breast cancer, according to a study at the University of New Mexico that analyzed the diets of women with Polish backgrounds in the Chicago area.

It found that women who ate three or more servings a week of the kraut — or raw or briefly cooked cabbage — had a “significantly reduced breast cancer risk compared to women who had one serving weekly.”

University epidemiologist Dorothy Rybaczyk-Pathak credits the benefits of the anti-oxidant glucosinolate, which is found in cabbage as well as kale, collard and cauliflower.

Chefs should keep garlic handy. It can ward off cancer-causing carcinogens produced by meat cooked at high temperatures, according to a study by Florida A&M; University.

Searing those burgers releases a chemical called PhIP, a suspected carcinogen. Environmental toxicologist Ron Thomas said diallyl sulfide (DAS), a flavor component of garlic, inhibits the effects of PhIP, particularly in breast tissue.

“We treated human breast epithelial cells with equal amounts of PhIP and DAS,” he said, adding that the PhIP caused the tissue to produce cancer-causing enzymes. The DAS, however, completely prevented the dangerous enzyme “from becoming carcinogenic.”

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