Studies in the past have shown that certain compounds in the vegetable broccoli, are known to halt the growth of breast, prostate, colon and stomach cancer cells and also appear to slow the progress of bladder cancer. In a more recent study researchers say they have identified that isothiocyanates hindered the growth of bladder cancer cells in the lab, with the most profound effect on the most aggressive form of bladder cancer.
In a study conducted six years ago by Harvard and Ohio State universities it was found that men who ate two or more half-cup servings of broccoli per week had a 44 per cent lower incidence of bladder cancer compared to men who ate less than one serving each week.
Researchers isolated compounds called glucosinolates from broccoli sprouts. During chopping, chewing and digestion, these phytochemicals morph into isothiocyanates - the anti-cancer compounds - but researchers used an enzymatic process to convert the glucosinolates to isothiocyanates. They then treated two human bladder cancer cell lines and one mouse cell line with varying amounts of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Even though glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates, the researchers wanted to know if the former would have any effect on controlling the growth of cancer cells. The isothiocyanates decreased proliferation in all three-cell lines. The strongest effect was on the most aggressive of these lines - human invasive transitional cell carcinoma.
The glucosinolates had no such effect, hence researchers are now investigating the mechanism for this anti-cancer action. Researchers say they intend to do more research on the compounds to determine if they work together or independently, and what kind of effects they have on cancer cells.