Saturday, November 01, 2008

Green Vegetables | Cancer

Scientists have recently discovered why a diet high in green vegetables helps to ward off cancer. Chemicals released when vegetables such as spinach or okra are chopped, processed, cooked, chewed and digested make cancer cells mortal, stopping them from proliferating indefinitely. The protection is provided by the chemical that gives the vegetables their slightly bitter taste. This anti-cancer mechanism is the same as that of some modern cancer drugs.

Sinigrin, a chemical compound found in brassicas, is converted by processing or eating into allylisothiocyanate (AITC). This interrupts the division of colon cancer cells, instead of going on dividing indefinitely, the cells float free and then go into apoptosis, the process of cell suicide.

Normal cells commit suicide at the end of their life cycles. But when this process goes wrong and cells continue dividing unchecked, the result is a tumor. One of the targets of drug scientists is to devise ways of restoring normal behavior, and it appears that AITC can do this. That a diet high in fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of cancer has been known from studies that show eating plenty of greens can halve the risk. But exactly how it worked has, until now, been unclear.

This is not a miracle cancer cure, but it does show that preventive dietary measures can be discovered and exploited in the same way as drugs. It is for many years that sinigrin breakdown products kill cancer cells. But by uncovering a previously unknown part of the process working in a similar way to some anti-cancer drugs, this hopes to show how important diet can be in your personal anti-cancer armory. It is also important to note that the shorter the cooking time and the less water used to prepare the vegetables, the greater the preventive effect is, is it's best if possible to eat the vegetables raw or just cook it in the least possible time.



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