Dr Zara Quail MBChB (UCT)
Health News

Have you eaten your broccoli and brussel sprouts today? They may help reduce your risk of cancer.

Some of the cruciferous veggy family you may have heard of include brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, turnips and watercress. Some you might not have heard of are arugula, broccoli rabe, chinese cabbage (napa), collard green, daikon (a type of radish), kohlrabi, mustard greens, and rutabaga.(1) Scientists in China have done large analyses of groups of studies and their findings indicate that a high intake of cruciferous vegetables  was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer(2) and bladder cancer.(3) Other studies in Europe have suggested that eating cruciferous vegetables at least once a week was associated with a reduced risk of  cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, colon and rectum, breast, and kidney.(4) They all suggest that future studies could be done to assess the direct effects of cruciferous veggies on cancer prevention. But anything associated with a reduced risk of cancer is good enough for me. Try to have at least one of these, especially broccoli, brussels sprouts or kale, everyday.


(1) Institute for Functional Medicine. Cruciferous Vegetables patient handout.

(2) Liu X, LV K. Cruciferous vegetables intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis. Breast. 2012 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22877795

(3) Liu B, Mao Q, Lin Y et al. The association of cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of bladder cancer: a meta-analysis. World J Urol. 2012 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22391648

(4) Bosetti C, Filomeno M, Riso P et al. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies. Ann Oncol. 2012 Aug;23(8):2198-203. Epub 2012 Feb 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22328735