The health and cancer-fighting benefits of broccoli have been known for some time. Studies have shown its efficacy in fighting tumors as well as offering protection against breast, colon and prostate cancer.
However, a more recent study has confirmed that broccoli is also protective against liver cancer. The study was published by the Journal of Nutrition and led by Elizabeth Jeffery, PhD of the University of Illinois.
The many health benefits of broccoli
In addition to protection against liver cancer, consuming broccoli regularly can also assist in blocking the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases that cause the liver to malfunction. In some cases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can also contribute to hepatocellular carcinoma – which has a very high mortality rate.
Unfortunately, the typical American diet is too high in (toxic) saturated fats, processed foods and added sugars. Both saturated fats and sugars are converted to body fat, but they’re also stored in the liver. Sadly, the standard American diet (SAD) results in excess body fat – which is directly linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Liver disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver as well as liver cancer. Without treatment, it can progress and become very serious. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often does not have symptoms or signs; however, it can be accompanied by pain in the upper right abdomen, fatigue and weight loss.
Obesity linked with liver cancer, especially for men
The broccoli study was launched in part as a response to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. due to the poor diet adopted by so many Americans. Obesity is a known contributor and risk factor for liver cancer, especially in men. In fact, liver cancer risk for a man can be as much as five times higher if his weight is in the obesity range.
Broccoli contains a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane, which is acquired most effectively when the broccoli is eaten raw or slightly steamed. Other research has also pointed to brassica vegetables’ ability to block fat accumulation in the liver. Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all brassica vegetables, and they all seem to have a protective effect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
For the recent study, mice that had a liver cancer-causing carcinogen were given different diets including a control diet, the typical American high-fat, high-sugar diet, and a diet that included broccoli.
Restoring liver balance and health with broccoli
Mice fed the American unhealthy diet showed increased levels of cancer in the liver. However, when they were given broccoli, tumors and nodules decreased.
Eating broccoli seemed to reduce the amount of fat that was taken in the liver while also increasing its lipid output. The liver is brought back into balance through eating broccoli, and health improves.
Clearly, eating more broccoli is extremely positive for health and preventing cancer. A minimum of three servings of organic broccoli per week is recommended, but the health benefits of broccoli can be further enhanced by eating it even more frequently.