A new study has reported that sulforaphane, a natural component of broccoli and other brassica vegetables, reduces the growth of breast cancer stem cells and impairs their viability. The effects of sulforaphane on breast cancer stem cells in the laboratory were evaluated using various methods.
Sulforaphane was found to reduce the stem cell population (as measured by a stem cell marker) by 65% to 80% in human breast cancer cells. In an additional experiment, mice were implanted with breast cancer xenografts and the tumors were treated directly with sulforaphane.
The impact of the treatment was assessed in part by measuring tumor growth upon cell reimplantation into a second group of mice. Daily injection with 50 mg/kg sulforaphane for two weeks was found to reduce the number of stem cells by more than 50% in the xenograft tumors.
Sulforaphane's ability to eliminate breast cancer stem cells appeared to prevent tumor growth after the reimplantation of primary tumor cells into the second group of mice. The authors conclude that sulforaphane inhibits breast cancer stem cells and that the findings warrant further clinical evaluation.
Please see our article on how to optimize your breast cancer diet for information on what to eat during all stages of treatment and recovery.
Selected breast cancer studies
Regulation of estrogen receptor α expression in human breast cancer cells by sulforaphane
Ramirez MC, Singletary K. Regulation of estrogen receptor α expression in human breast cancer cells by sulforaphane. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Elsevier BV; 2009; 20:195-201 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.02.002
Suppression of microtubule dynamic instability and turnover in MCF7 breast cancer cells by sulforaphane
Azarenko O, Okouneva T, Singletary KW, Jordan MA, Wilson L. Suppression of microtubule dynamic instability and turnover in MCF7 breast cancer cells by sulforaphane. Carcinogenesis. Oxford University Press (OUP); 2008; 29:2360-2368 10.1093/carcin/bgn241
Sulforaphane induces cell type–specific apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines
Pledgie-Tracy A, Sobolewski MD, Davidson NE. Sulforaphane induces cell type–specific apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); 2007; 6:1013-1021 10.1158/1535-7163.mct-06-0494
Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells
Rose P, Huang Q, Ong CN, Whiteman M. Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. Elsevier BV; 2005; 209:105-113 10.1016/j.taap.2005.04.010