The component sulforaphane is present in broccoli and kills cancer stem cells as well as preventing new tumours from growing.
According to researchers at the University of Michigan current chemotherapy treatments do not work against cancer stem cells, however they believe that eliminating the cancer stem cells is the key to controlling the disease.
The study tested the effects of sulforaphane in experiments involving mice and cell cultures. Researchers took mice with breast cancer and injected varying concentrations of sulforaphane from the broccoli extract and used several methods to assess the number of cancer stem sells in the tumours.
After treatment with the sulforaphane there was a marked decrease in the cancer stem cell population and the cells from mice treated with the component were unable to generate new tumours.
The researchers are now currently developing a method to extract and preserve the component as the tests involved higher concentrations of sulforaphane than are available by simply eating broccoli.
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