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Sulforaphane from broccoli can inhibit breast cancer stem cells


BroccoliResearchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center studied the effectiveness of sulforaphane1) in targeting and killing breast cancer stem cells on both mice and cell cultures with promising results.  In the study the sulforaphane extracted from broccoli sprouts prevented new tumors from growing.

“Sulforaphane has been studied previously for its effects on cancer, but this study shows that its benefit is in inhibiting the breast cancer stem cells. This new insight suggests the potential of sulforaphane or broccoli extract to prevent or treat cancer by targeting the critical cancer stem cells,” says Duxin Sun2).

After injecting various concentrations of sulforaphane in mice with breast cancer, researchers measured the number of cancer stem cells in the tumors. The findings showed a decrease in the cancer stem cell population after treatment with sulforaphane, with little effect on the normal cells. Also, the cancer cells from mice treated with sulforaphane were unable to generate new tumors. Similar results were obtained after the researchers tested sulforaphane on human breast cancer cell cultures.

“This research suggests a potential new treatment that could be combined with other compounds to target breast cancer stem cells. Developing treatments that effectively target the cancer stem cell population is essential for improving outcomes,” says Max S. Wicha3).

1) Sulforaphane is a organosulfur compound obtained from cruciferous vegetables
2) Duxin Sun, Ph.D – study author – is an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy and a researcher with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
3) Max S. Wicha, M.D. – study author – is a Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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