Broccoli and its other vegetable cousins have for long been associated with cancer obstruction. Experiments done hitherto have showed that broccoli can stop the growth of cancer but not much was known as to how.

But now the scientists have stumbled on to a key ingredient that appears to be the reason why broccoli is so effective. A potential biochemical basis has been discovered by a team of scientists. It is, apparently, this biochemical basis that lends broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables the cancer-fighting ability.

Fung-Lung Chung and his team showed that broccoli and its veggie cousins contain substances called isothiocyanates (or ITCs) that apparently stops cancerous cells from growing. However, it was not known exactly how these substances work. But now some new interesting findings have surfaced which may prove vital to developing improved strategies for fighting cancer in humans.

The tumor suppressor gene p53 is, supposedly, the key player in keeping cells healthy and preventing them from starting the abnormal cancerous growth. During mutation this gene p53 does not offer this protection and these mutations take place in 50% of all human cancers.

The new report suggests that ITCs may be working by targeting this gene. This report appears in the ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and may prove to be highly effective in prevention and treatment of cancer in the future.

The scientists carefully examined the effect of ITCs on various cancer cells including lung, breast and colon cancer with and without the defective tumour suppressor gene. The findings suggested that the ITCs could effectively remove the defective p53 protein. Though it is too early to conclude anything with finality, in the long run drugs based on natural or custom-built ITCs may help to combat various forms of cancer.