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Friday, June 12, 1998 Published at 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK


Cancer busting broccoli

A plate of greens could ward off cancer

The compound that gives broccoli its distinctive taste could be a secret weapon in the fight against cancer, research shows.

However, scientists admit that no matter how healthy the vegetable could be, many people will still not be persuaded to eat it.

Broccoli contains anti-carcinogenic compounds which can cause pre-cancerous cells to destroy themselves in a process known as apoptosis. The compound also gives broccoli its characteristic "mustard" flavour.

Juiced broccoli

The studies at the Institute of Food Research, funded by British Broccoli Growers, showed that when juiced broccoli was added to cancer cells, cell survival was reduced by around 95%.

Ian Johnston, head of the project at the IFR said: "Although there is still a lot of work which needs to be done, the broccoli study is further evidence that leafy green vegetables have anti-carcinogenic properties.

"Broccoli is a member of a group of vegetables called brassicas which have a distinct `mustard-like' flavour.

"This flavour is created by the anti-carcinogenic compounds which can be found within brassica vegetables such as broccoli."

The Cancer Research Campaign said the findings backed up its own work on apoptosis currently being undertaken.

Disliked by the president

But Director General Professor Gordon McVie admitted the benefits of broccoli were set to pass most of the population by - including US President Bill Clinton who recently admitted a dislike of the healthy veg.

He warned: "Broccoli is top of the league of green vegetables in terms of anti-oxidants and apoptosis, but bottom of the league in popularity according to our latest research with Iceland Frozen Foods.

"It is hated by small children in Britain and by American presidents. The task now is to convince people that its anti-cancer properties outweigh its unpopular taste."

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