Vegan Health ArticlesBroccoli and Breast Cancer
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From Michael Greger, MD

Not all vegetables are the same. It is quite controversial, for example, whether or not total vegetable intake is related to breast cancer risk.[1, 2] But specifically eating cruciferous vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, etc.) does seem to protect against breast cancer, the number one killer of middle-aged women in the United States.[3] The anti-cancer properties of this family of plants is attributed to two rather unique phytonutrients, isothiocyanates and indoles.

Isothiocyanates can actually boost your own liver's ability to detoxify any carcinogens you're exposed to and indoles may prevent cancer by helping your body break down hormones that cause breast cell proliferation.

A new study shows just how powerful broccoli is:

Young women eating just a single stalk's worth of broccoli a week seemed to be 40% less likely to develop breast cancer![4] Imagine if some new drug could do that--and only had good side-effects? Everyone would be taking it; some drug company CEO would be making millions trying to bankrupt uninsured women with it. Last I checked, though, organic broccoli was just a few bucks a pound--and available without a prescription.

Should one eat one's broccoli raw or cooked?

Cooking does destroy those wonderful isothiocyanates that rev up your liver to neutralize carcinogens; at the same time, in cooked broccoli you actually absorb more of those wonderful indoles that prevent cancer by helping your body break down growth hormones. So raw broccoli or cooked? Both. Eat your greens.

Cruciferous vegetables help your body take out the trash.


1 European Journal of Cancer 36(2000):636.

2 Journal of the American Medical Association 285 (2001):769.

3 Journal of the American Medical Association 285 (2001):2975.

4 Journal of Nutrition 134(2004):1134.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.