The benefit of consuming a broccoli-rich diet can cut down the risk of prostate cancer, according to researchers.
What's more, the consumption of one or more portions of the green veggie can lessen the risk of localized cancer becoming more aggressive.
In the study, the research group at the Institute of Food Research led by Professor Richard Mithen has provided an explanation of how eating broccoli might reduce cancer risk based upon studies in men, as opposed to trying to extrapolate from animal models.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer for males in western countries. The research has provided an insight into why eating broccoli can help men stay healthy.
In the research, men who were at risk of developing prostate cancer, were made to eat either 400g of broccoli or 400g of peas per week in addition to their normal diet over 12 months.
Tissue samples were taken from their prostate gland before the start of the trial and after 6 and 12 months, and the expression of every gene measured using Affymetrix microarray technology.
It was found that there were more changes in gene expression in men who were on the broccoli-rich diet than on the pea diet, and these changes may be associated with the reduction in the risk of developing cancer, that has been reported in epidemiological studies.
Previous studies have suggested that the fifty percent of the population who have a GSTM1 gene gain more benefit from eating broccoli than those who lack this gene. The study showed that the presence of the GSTM1 gene had a profound effect on the changes in gene expression caused by eating broccoli.
The results of the study suggested that relatively low amounts of cruciferous vegetables in the diet - a few portions per week - can have large effects on gene expression by changing cell-signaling pathways.
These signaling pathways are the routes by which information is transmitted through a molecular cascade, which amplifies the signal to the nucleus of the cell where gene expression occurs.
The study has been published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on July 2.