A Dose of Broccoli a Day May Keep Liver Cancer Away
Based on some recent surveys, it’s clear that Americans have embraced a broccoli habit after hearing that this vegetable may help to lower the risk of breast, prostate and lung cancer. Broccoli is in the class of brassica vegetables, which also includes Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. A new study suggests that including regular servings of broccoli in one’s diet may protect against liver cancer and NAFLD, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD can damage the liver, causing it to malfunction. NAFLD is also a risk factor for HCC or hepatocellular cancer, which has a very high mortality rate. Having Type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and a high cholesterol level are all risk factors for NAFLD.
Researchers decided to focus on broccoli and its possible interaction with the liver and risk of liver cancer, because obesity (associated with a diet high in calories and low in fruits and vegetables) is linked to fatty liver disease and increased risk of liver cancer, especially in men. The data suggests that an obese male has a five-fold greater risk for liver cancer if he is obese.
The American, western-style diet is a cancer-provoking diet
The heavy doses of saturated fat and sugar most of us eat daily, is processed by the liver and converted and stored as fat. Eating a diet filled with highly processed foods and having excess body fat is linked with NAFLD, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. The researchers wanted to look at this type of diet as a liver carcinogen (causes cancer) and then see if broccoli could intercept its cancer-inducing properties. Broccoli contains sulforaphane which has cancer-fighting properties.
The mice subjects were divided into four groups: a control group, a group on the Westernized diet, a control group fed broccoli and a group on the Westernized diet given broccoli. The researchers were obviously interested in seeing if the broccoli could intercept the formation and progress of cancerous tumors in the liver. As a separate observation, they also wanted to see if the broccoli would modify how the liver was metabolizing lipids from the high fat diet in the western diet groups. The researchers focused on the globules of fat in the livers of the mice on the Westernized diet.
Having broccoli in the diet did not protect against obesity in the mice on the Westernized diet. The broccoli did however protect against and limit development of fatty liver diseases in the Westernized diet group. It helped to “keep them healthier,” keeping their liver more optimal, despite the onslaught of sugar and fat in their diet. The findings suggest that even if you choose to eat fast food, adding a dose of broccoli may help to tilt the metabolic process a bit in your favor, supporting the liver as it processes the high fat, high sugar elements of the food. Eat it fresh or lightly steamed, or sautéed in a bit of healthy oil.
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