What is the role of cruciferous vegetables in prostate cancer risk-reduction?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Mark A Moyad, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale have high levels of the anticarcinogenic phytochemicals sulforaphane and indole-3 carbinol. These nutrients induce the production of antioxidant enzymes that can protect cells from oxidative damage. Sulforaphane helps to induce apoptosis in damaged cells. In animal studies, indole-3 carbinol has been shown to exhibit antiproliferative and antimetastatic properties.

Findings from a study by Canene-Adams and coworkers implied that plant-derived nutrients are more beneficial in combination than alone. [55] The investigators studied the antitumor activity in the Dunning prostate-cancer animal model. They fed rats various combinations of tomatoes and broccoli and found that tumor growth was significantly reduced owing to reduced cancer cell proliferation and increased apoptosis.

However, as with beta-carotenes, recent pooled prospective studies have found that consumption of cruciferous vegetables has minimal effect on prostate cancer risk. [56] Again, however, this does not negate the general findings that vegetables are not only heart healthy but are the cornerstone of many potentially successful weight loss dietary plans.

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