We have all been taught that our genes dictate our futures, a roadmap for our bodies and our health. These genes are set upon birth, predetermined, and there is nothing that we can do to change that destiny. New studies are calling this belief into question.
What are Cruciferous Vegetables?
Cruciferous vegetables are also known as brassica vegetables. This family of vegetables are rich in nutrients, including vitamins C, E and K, folate, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein and minerals. They are also high in fiber.
Examples of these vegetables include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress and wasabi.
They contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing chemicals are responsible for the bitter flavor and pungent aroma that are often associated with these vegetables. During the process of food preparation, chewing and digestion these glucosinolates are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as thiocyanates, nitriles, isothiocyanates and indoles.
Your body will also convert a key nutrient within these vegetables into the nutrient Diindolylmethane, or DIM.
How Do These Vegetables Help to Prevent Cancer?
Isothiocyanates and indoles have been found to inhibit the development of several types of cancer including bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach. On top of inhibiting the development of cancer, these compounds have also been found to:
- Inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)
- Inhibit tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis)
- Protect cells from DNA damage
- Have antiviral and antibacterial effects
- Have anti-inflammatory effects
- Inactivate carcinogens
- Induce cell death (apoptosis)
DIM has also been found to both inhibit the formation and spread of cancer. The nutrient works to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Test have revealed that it targets specific cancer tumor cells within the body including breast, cervical, colon, ovarian, prostate and uterine cancer cells.
Breast Cancer: A case study titled ‘Brassica Vegetables and Breast Cancer Risk’ found that women who ate greater amounts of various cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Colorectal Cancer: A study out of the Netherlands investigated the correlation between women with a high intake of cruciferous vegetables and a reduced risk of colon cancer. The study, however, was only completed on women, not men, and found no decrease in rectal cancer rates.
Lung Cancer: A U.S. analysis, using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, found that women who consume 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables each week had a lower risk of lung cancer.
Prostate Cancer: Two separate studies, ‘Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes and Prostate Cancer: a Multiethnic Case-Control Study’, and ‘Plant Foods, Antioxidants, and Prostate Cancer Risk: Findings from Case-Control Studies in Canada’ both outline a connection between individuals who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk of prostate cancer.