Eating broccoli may lower liver cancer risk: study

04 March 2016, 04:57 PM

Including broccoli in your diet may protect you against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver, a new study has claimed.

Scientists have previously reported that eating broccoli three to five times per week can lower the risk of many types of cancer including breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

The new study found that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which can cause malfunction of the liver and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a liver cancer with a high mortality rate.

“The normal story about broccoli and health is that it can protect against a number of different cancers. But nobody had looked at liver cancer,” said Elizabeth Jeffery from University of Illinois in US.

Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet and having excess body fat is linked with the development of NAFLD, which can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, researchers said.

“We called this a Westernised-style diet in the study because we wanted to model how so many of us are eating today,” said Jeffery.

Researchers wanted to find out the impact of feeding broccoli to mice with a known liver cancer-causing carcinogen.  They studied four groups of mice; some of which were on a control diet or the Westernised diet, and some were given or not given broccoli.

“We wanted to look at this liver carcinogen in mice that were either obese or not obese. We did not do it using a genetic strain of obese mice, but mice that became obese the way that people do, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet,” said Jeffery.

The study shows that in mice on the Westernised diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. But when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected.

With NAFLD, lipid globules form on the liver. During the study, researchers observed these globules in the livers of the mice on the Westernised diet.

“We found that the Westernised diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it.  Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” said Jeffery. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

First Published: Friday, March 04, 2016 16:51 [IST]
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