Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why your mother was right about eating your broccoli

We all remember those days in our childhood when vegetables were oh-so-yucky. We'd push them around our plate and would be denied our dessert if we didn't finish them. One of my least favorites was broccoli and cauliflower, yet my mother insisted I needed to eat as many as my age. Well, she was right.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish and turnip, among others) contain a compound known as sulforaphane that works through epigenetics to prevent cancer (Eat Your Broccoli: Another Mechanism Discovered by Which Sulforaphane Prevents Cancer). Epigenetics is the study of how genes are turned on/off or expressed beyond the obvious genetic code. DNA is effected by the addition of methyl and acetyl groups, as well as enzymes known as histone deacetylaces (HDACs). In terms of sulforaphane, it acts as a HDAC inhibitor, and it prevents the deactivation of tumor suppressor genes affected by HDAC.

However, a new mechanism for sulforaphane has been discovered, and it works in conjunction with HDAC inhibition, according to a new study by the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Sulforaphane has been seen to provide DNA methylation.
DNA methylation turns off genes, thus it controls what genetic material gets transcribed when cell replicate, as well as the cellular components present inside the cell during cell to cell communication. When working in conjunction with HDAC inhibition, it helps prevent the perturbation of the cell cycle (A perturbation that cancer readily exploits). Disruption of DNA methylation also causes general havoc, such as neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, and even immune function. 

So mom was right. Eat your broccoli and help your DNA remain methylated and HDAC free!

Original Paper: Anna Hsu, Carmen P Wong, Zhen Yu, David E Williams, Roderick H Dashwood, Emily Ho. Promoter de-methylation of cyclin D2 by sulforaphane in prostate cancer cellsClinical Epigenetics, 2011; 3 (1): 3 

1 comment:

  1. Aloo gobi, broccoli sauté, cream of turnip soup, borsch.... Seems like these are you favorites now!
    Very good article!