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Broccoli May Ward Off Serious Stomach Ailments
Date:4/6/2009

Results of small study hint at cancer-preventing ability, researcher says

MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Eating 2.5 ounces a day of broccoli sprouts appeared to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers and probably stomach cancer in a Japanese trial.

Gastric cancer thus joins a long list of malignancies for which studies have shown a reduced risk associated with a diet that contains broccoli -- including cancer of the esophagus, bladder, skin and lung, among others.

"I have to be careful about how enthusiastically I state the case," said Jed W. Fahey, the faculty research associate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine whose research led to the Japanese study. "This was a small trial. But the evidence is all pointing toward broccoli or broccoli sprouts being able to prevent cancer in humans."

The chemical in broccoli responsible for the protective effect is sulforaphane, Fahey said. His group first described it as a potent antibiotic against Helicobacter pylori in 2002. The Japanese study, reported in the April issue of Cancer Prevention Research, was designed to show whether eating broccoli sprouts, which are rich in sulforaphane, resulted in lower levels of H. pylori, a bacterium that is closely associated with the risk of stomach damage and gastric cancer.

The study was done in Japan because the rate of H. pylori infection there is high. Though about 25 percent to 30 percent of Americans are infected, "in Japan there is infection at levels approaching 90 percent because of crowding and poor economic conditions," Fahey said. The bacterium is spread by person-to-person contact.

The study included 48 infected people. Half ate 70 grams a day of broccoli sprouts, and the others ate alfalfa sprouts, which do not contain sulforaphane. After eight weeks, tests showed significantly lower levels of H. pylori infection in those who ate broccoli sprouts, with no reduction a
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