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Fighting Skin Cancer with Broccoli and Cabbage

Mom always said, “Eat your broccoli. It’s good for you.”  Now I’m a mom, and I’m a broccoli-pusher too. 

It’s not just lip service; broccoli and its cruciferous cousins really are good for you. It’s already been demonstrated that vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale, when chewed and digested, release chemical compounds that may inhibit the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer cells.  These same chemicals (diindolylmethane, or DIM) may help to boost immune systems as well.

Cancer research now indicates that compounds extracted from cruciferous greens, when combined with selenium, form a drug that may be safer and more effective than traditional therapy in targeting melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer.

Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to health; it aids in the production of antioxidant enzymes to prevent cell damage from free radicals. Cancer patients often are found to be deficient in this mineral.  The vegetable compounds were recorded as 30-70% more effective on human melanoma cell lines when combined with selenium.

The researchers believe that the selenium-enhanced drug could be introduced intravenously, delivering a strong potency in small amounts.  Therefore, patients would experience less severe side effects than from conventional methods of fighting melanoma. 

It is also possible that the drug could be administered topically in sunscreen.

Movement towards effective skin cancer therapy is exciting; even more so when it incorporates naturally-occurring elements.  Perhaps this discovery will encourage more doctors and researchers to look to nature for ways to prevent and treat disease. 

Until then, make sure your kids (and you!)  wear sunscreen, maintain a healthy dietand eat lots of greens.

Photo Credit: Rick Harris under Creative Commons


  1. Having read Andrew Weil in the nineties, he emphasized the importance of eating brocolli at least once a week because of these characteristics. It’s nice to have them highlighted yet again.

  2. Even the FDA admits that food plays a huge role in preventing cancers now. Why isn’t this information more mainstream?


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