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Eating broccoli cuts risk of developing prostate cancer

A new study has cast light on how broccoli fights prostate cancer.

The vegetable has been shown to protect against the disease.

Scientists now believe a chemical in broccoli called sulphoraphane interacts with cells lacking a key anti-tumour gene to keep prostate cancer at bay.

When the gene, PTEN, is de-activated or weakened, it can promote the spread of the disease.

Researchers who carried out a series of experiments found that in cells with normally functioning PTEN, sulphoraphane had no effect on cancer development.

But it had a big impact on tumour cells with a defective PTEN gene. The broccoli chemical caused them to become less competitive and able to survive.

The findings, published in the online journal Molecular Cancer, help explain why eating broccoli can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, and hold back progression of the disease once it is there.

Study leader Professor Richard Mithen, from Norwich, said: "PTEN is a tumour-suppressor gene, the deletion or inactivation of which can initiate prostate carcinogenesis, and enhance the probability of cancer progression. We've shown here that sulphor-aphane has different effects depending on whether the PTEN gene is present."

hnews@ herald.ie