Aging affects a woman's body in several ways, but it's particularly unkind to the breasts. As women go through menopause, decreased estrogen production shrinks mammary glands and fat in tissue altering breast size and fullness. Reduced elasticity in connective tissue can make breasts sag, and risks for breast cancer rise after menopause. Fortunately, there's something women can do to promote healthy breast changes with age: eat broccoli.
Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts stimulates over 200 genes in the body to produce enzymes, proteins and antioxidants that protect cells. One of these important antioxidants, glutathione, works inside cells to protect them from free radicals and inflammatory response. Some enzymes and proteins even do battle with cancer cells and reduce over-expression of estrogen receptors, an action common in many types of breast cancer.
Current chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer are incapable of suppressing cancer stem cells, but broccoli sprouts have shown promise in various scientific studies. One study published in Clinical Cancer Research in 2010 showed that sulforaphane suppressed breast cancer cells both in vivo (in live animals) and in vitro (under glass).
In a separate study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University examined women scheduled for breast reduction surgery to determine if sulforaphane actually showed up in breast tissue after women drank broccoli sprout juice. Results showed measurable results of sulforaphane, proving that the compound actually reaches the target area in women with breast cancer when they consume broccoli sprout juice.
In addition to helping ensure healthy breast changes with age, broccoli sprouts have been shown to:
- Aid in the treatment of autism
- Help manage type 2 diabetes
- Rid the body of toxic air pollutants
- Destroy Helicobacter Pylori, a harmful gastrointestinal organism
- Slow the development of osteoarthritis
While further studies are needed to determine if sulforaphane extract might offer promise as natural form of breast cancer treatment, adding broccoli to the grocery cart definitely doesn't hurt. People can stock up on the whole vegetable, its sprouts, or purchase broccoli sprout supplements through local whole food stores or natural supplements websites. For the best health benefits, organic forms broccoli and broccoli sprouts are recommended.