Dr. Rosen is available for interviews with the news media and may be contacted at the number above. For a copy of the study, go to http://www.nature.com/bjc or contact the Office of Communications at 202-687-5100.
In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature) the researchers show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.
Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables--especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli--aren't particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person's risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."
In this study, Rosen exposed breast and prostate cancer cells to increasing doses of 13C and genistein, and found that these chemicals boosted production of BRCA1, as well as its sister repair protein, BRCA2. Mutations in either of these genes can lead to development of breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.