Monday, November 1, 2010

Eating raw broccoli helps bladder cancer survivors

Just across my desk (i.e. computer) is research (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Jul;19(7):1806-11) showing a significant increase in survival after bladder cancer diagnosis when consuming a modest amount of raw broccoli.

In a study examining dietary intakes of people when first diagnosed with bladder cancer at a major cancer center in New York, researchers found that the patients who ate 1 or more servings/month of raw broccoli versus less than one serving/month had a 43% reduction in death from all causes and a remarkable 57% reduction in death from bladder cancer when looking at data after 8 years of follow-up. Intakes of total vegetables, total fruits, and other cruciferous vegetables did not show any benefits on either overall survival or bladder cancer survival.

Prior animal and in vitro (cell studies) data have shown potent antiproliferative effects of dietary isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables on bladder cancer cells. This study was unique because it looked at both raw and cooked food consumption since cooking (especially cooking greens for hours!) can substantially reduce or destroy isothiocyanates contained in cruciferous or Brassica vegetables. 

Further follow-up studies with human subjects are clearly warranted but in the meantime, eat your broccoli and other Brassica vegetables, some of them raw, and the rest only very lightly steamed or stir-fried, and save any steaming liquid to use for future soup stock. Of note, although intake of kale and collard greens was evaluated and found to offer no survival benefit in this study, my comment above about the usual cooking technique (i.e., boiling for hours on end) for these vegetables may have rendered their intake inconsequential in this type of study.

Cruciferous vegetables do have a wide variety of glucosinolates, which are metabolized to a wide variety of isothiocyanates that could have different levels of protection against different types of cancers. Eat them all, enjoy them all, in a variety of different ways! And I'm just taking a wild guess, but I'll bet that most regular readers of this blog eat kale, broccoli, and other Brassica vegetables, raw or cooked, more than once a month. :-)

Photo: Garlic Scape-Kale Pesto - this is not raw broccoli, but a delicious way to eat another raw cruciferous vegetable. Believe it or not (actually I'm embarrassed to admit this), I still have some garlic scapes in my refrigerator (the tops are dried out but the stems are in great shape!), so I'm going to try making this pesto using raw broccoli florets instead of kale. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Where kale (and broccoli) is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Debbie said...

Hi Diana. I just stumbled on your blog and love kale. We hope to grow it through the winter in our 5a zone.

As a dietitian can you tell me if you dehydrate kale, and turn it in to a powder, will it still retain its nutrition? I think this might be the only way I can get my child to consume it.


Diana Dyer said...

Good question - thanks for reading my blog and writing. I'll do a little digging when I have the chance to see what has been studied about this. Since the dietary supplement industry wants to put everything in a pill or capsule, I'm hoping there has been some research showing yea or nay on this question, at least in terms of other leafy greens and/or cruciferous vegetables. So many good questions to think about. Be sure to try kale chips - they are easy to make, fun to eat, and are winners with most kids (big and little)!

amy said...

Hi Diane!

I am so happy that I found your blog!! I love kale, but haven't had it in a while. Today I got some, and I am making a huge salad for lunch. I will post a picture on my blog later. (I'm going to read through all your old posts).

Thank you for writing this blog :D It's very informative.


Unknown said...

Hi Diana!

I'm a huge fan of pesto, and I make it with just about anything I can get my hands on! I've used this recipe to make broccoli pesto, but I alter it slightly because I'm vegan.


Diana Dyer said...

Hi Veggiegirl -
Thanks for stopping by my kale blog. Now you've got me thinking that I could throw any left over one-dish meal into a blender, add some more fresh garlic, something green, blend, and presto - pesto! Or at least a hummus equivalent, one of my other favorite foods. :-) So good as a topping on baked potatoes, as a sandwich spread, etc, etc. Yum, yum, and easy, easy since all the work has been done except bringing out the food processor. Thanks for the idea!

amanda said...

hello! a friend passed along this recipe, and i made it today. YUM! since i'm vegan, i used nutritional yeast instead of parmesan, and it worked.

i myself have been eating kale every day (just about) since september. i'm becoming a bit of a kale queen because i can't stop talking about it or eating it! i was happy to stumble upon your blog over the winter. all hail kale! :)