03 July 2008

Prostate Cancer

For those of you wanting to protect the family jewels then it seems a recent study out of the United Kingdom might provide the answer. Researchers from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich have confirmed that broccoli (photo courtesy of Jennifer Soo) has some benefits in protecting men from developing prostate cancer and may even slow down tumour growth in those that have developed them. Now this is not a series of results from lab rats but from human guinea pigs who were fed either broccoli or peas over the course of a year.

For those of you who are not big broccoli eaters, then there is no real need to fear as the results indicate that as little as one serving a week gives the desired results. Despite the positives, the researchers were quick to point out that there was still much work to be done in determining whether a broccoli regime would work for everyone or only the select few.

The results were verified through the taking of tissue samples from the prostate glands of the participants before and during the trial. What the tissue samples showed was broccoli changed how genes linked to prostate cancer act.

However, like any study that publishes its results there will always be a wet blanket that wants to rain on the parade. In this case it is the Cancer Council Australia and their Chief Executive, Professor Ian Olver, who went so far as to say that the results were only interesting. This is a far cry from "promising". Nevertheless, Olver did not dismiss the results out of hand but indicated that larger studies were required to prove the benefits claimed in this 'small' study.

Now, Dr Michael Fenech, the Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO Human Nutrition lab, added that as yet there are no studies that show how broccoli consumption affected levels of PSA, the main biomarker of prostate cancer risk.

The good Dr Fenech then went on to say that "There is also little direct evidence to suggest that eating more broccoli protects you against prostate cancer if you are susceptible due to any genetic or environmental factor".

When it is all said and done, I am a broccoli eater. So, here is to hoping that the munching of all that broccoli has done its job in providing that little bit extra protection to the family jewels.

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