Can Cruciferous Vegetables Like Broccoli Help Prevent Bladder Cancer?

Can Cruciferous Vegetables Like Broccoli Help Prevent Bladder Cancer
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Once you start going down a rabbit hole on broccoli research, you begin to wonder why you don’t eat it at every meal.

Okay, that might be too much broccoli, but the point stands.

It has some truly amazing health properties and, unless you are allergic, should probably be a fairly regular part of your diet.

Here is some more research showing why.

Researchers from Ohio State University published an epidemiological review in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in September 2018. In it, they discussed evidence they found that diets high in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, among others) were associated with lower bladder cancer risk.

They believe the protective effects may come from what are called isothiocyanates, which which includes the famously healthy compound sulforaphane. The researchers note:

“In vitro studies have shown inhibition of bladder cancer cell lines, cell cycle arrest, and induction of apoptosis by these isothiocyanates, in particular sulforaphane and erucin. Although not yet completely understood, many mechanisms of anticancer activity at the steps of cancer initiation, promotion, and progression have been attributed to these isothiocyanates.They target multiple pathways including the adaptive stress response, phase I/II enzyme modulation, pro-growth, pro-survival, pro-inflammatory signaling, angiogenesis, and even epigenetic modulation.”

That’s a mouthful, but an encouraging and impressive one.

Effectively, the researchers are noting that, in in vitro studies, the inhibition of cancer cell lines occurs at many stages and by many mechanisms. It appears, if the in vitro results can be replicated in vivo (in people), that the protective effects of these compounds may be very well-rounded and potentially useful at many stages.

Now, as with all reviews of this type, there are limitations as to what we can glean from it.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing we can glean from it is hope.

These are very hopeful results that give us some insight into the protective health benefits of a very common, easy to find food.

Anybody can eat broccoli and cabbage.

What we cannot glean from it is how to best employ these foods to get the most of their potentially protective effects. Such as:

  • How much should we eat?
  • How often should we eat it?
  • How should we prepare it?
  • Does it come in supplement form?
  • If so, how much should we take and how much is safe to take?

Fortunately, with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, we have some familiarity with them already so adding them to our diets is not overly complicated.

As we discussed in this prior article, one of the best ways to get the most nutrient content out of broccoli is to steam it and dry it. If you’re not much for drying your foods, though, steaming could still be helpful.

At least it is more helpful than freezing and boiling it, which was found to be the most destructive to its polyphenol content.

But there are other, very easy and inexpensive ways to get more broccoli and cruciferous vegetables into your diet.

The next time you are at the store, take a look near your produce section for bags of shredded broccoli, cabbage, carrots, etc. Carrots are not a cruciferous vegetable, but they are often found in coleslaw mixes with the others. And, frankly, they offer their own host of health benefits as well.

These mixes can be an easy, inexpensive way to get a lot of healthy cruciferous vegetables into your diet. You can make a coleslaw out of them, add them to other salads, toss some on top of a sandwich for some extra crunch while allowing the sandwich to overtake some of that strong, cruciferous vegetable flavor, or just grab a handful and eat them if you are particularly tough.

In any case, there are a number of ways to find them and add them to your diet easily and inexpensively. And you may find you can develop a taste for them and truly enjoy making them a part of your diet too.

If you do add these foods to your diet or find a supplement, check in with your doctor to make sure you are doing so properly, not taking in too much, and are safe.

Even with healthy foods, there can be too much of a good thing.

So take a look around. See what you find. Eating healthy and to prevent disease does not have to be a chore. Once you start to play with it, you will probably realize you will never go back to the old ways of doing things.

Bon apetit!


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  1. Such a very informative and helpful post! Who knew that broccoli had so many benefits for us! It’s also amazing how even though we have the technology today, in certain ways, we still don’t know certain aspects of a vegetable.

  2. Yes, we keep learning more all the time. It really is amazing! Thanks for reading!

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