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Broccoli can halt most deadly form of breast cancer

Brussels sprouts and broccoli may provide new ways of treating one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, a study has found.

Drugs derived from a compound in cruciferous vegetables, which include sprouts and broccoli, were shown to reduce the growth of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells in the laboratory.

TNBC is one of the most deadly breast cancers as it does not respond to usual treatments. It accounts for around 15pc to 20pc of all cases.

The two drugs tested were developed from diindolylmethane (DIM), which is commonly found in various types of cruciferous vegetable.

Scientists believe they could be turned into a pill for some of the most difficult to treat breast tumours.

In the tests, they increased the proportion of "apoptopic" cancer cells -- those programmed to self-destruct -- by up to 49pc. They also suppressed cell colony formation.

Lead scientist Dr Mandip Sachdeva, from Florida A&M University in the US, said: "Targeted treatment options for TNBC are limited; current treatments, such as infusions, result in poor patient compliance and increased toxicity.

"We are confident that the compounds we are currently working with are an effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer. These compounds are safer for the patient than current treatments available."

Unlike many existing anti-cancer drugs, the DIM compounds could be made available in pill form, he said.

Dr Caitlin Palframan, policy manager at the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "Some of our most effective cancer treatments are derived from plants so looking at chemicals found in broccoli and Brussels sprouts could be fruitful. However, this research is in its very early stages and much more will be needed before we are able to say if these new drugs will be safe and effective for treating triple negative breast cancer."