Powerful dosages of extracts of broccoli sprout activates a “detoxification” or purification gene in our body and might help avert recurrence of cancer in survivors of head and neck cancer, as per an experimental testing by the Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh, along with UPMC Cancer Center, confirming primary results presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, last year.

It is the first ever researchsignifying that the extracts of broccoli sprouts guard against oral cancer, with the outcomes of animal, human, and laboratory tests stated in the journal of Cancer Prevention Research. This study is supportedby Pitt’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence funding in head and neck cancer from the National Cancer Institute.

According to the lead author Julie Bauman, M.D., M.P.H., the co-director of the UPMC Head and Neck Cancer Center of Excellence, it is often seen that survivors of head and neck cancer come back with fatal consequences after a few years. And unfortunately, it is evident that earlier hard works and attempts to create a preventive drug to minimize this risk have been ineffective, painful for patients and costly too. As per the lead author, this has led them to explore ‘green chemoprevention’ – the practical and economic development of treatments formulated upon entire plants or their extracts.

Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, garden cress, and broccoli have a huge concentration sulforaphane, the naturally occurring molecular compound thathas earlier been shown to safeguard individuals against environmental carcinogens.

Dr. Bauman and her team treated head and neck cancer cells of human in the laboratory with variousquantities of sulforaphane and a regulator, and correlated them to general, healthy cells that form the lining of the mouth and throat. The sulforaphanecaused both the types of cells to expand their protein levels that stimulates and activates genes that support in detoxifying deadly carcinogens, similar to those seen in cigarettes, and protect the cells from cancer.

In a small-scale preclinical experiment, 10 healthy and fitvolunteers drank or gargled fruit juice blended with extract of broccoli sprout for quite a few days. These volunteers had no major problems accepting the extract and the inner layer of their mouths displayed that the identicaldefensive genetic trailtriggered in the laboratory cell tests was stimulated and activated in their mouths, signifying that the sulforaphane was absorbed by the lining of the mouth and headed forthe tissues at-risk.

Dr. Bauman also worked together with Daniel E. Johnson,Ph.D.,senior scientist in the UPCI Head and Neck Cancer Program, professor of medicine at Pitt and alsothe senior author of the research, to understand how the extract acted in mice inclined to head and neck cancer. The mice thatwere given the sulforaphane developed far lessertumourscompared to their counterparts who were not given the extract.


The outcomes of the human, mouse, and lab studies have been so fruitful that Dr. Bauman has initiated a greater clinical trial with volunteers who wereearlier cured of head and neck cancer. These partakers are taking capsules havingpowder of broccoli seed, which is more comfortable to take on a regular basis than the juice mixed with extract.