Sunday, February 19, 2012

Research: Brassica-based tea removes air pollutants

I have not traveled to China, but I have friends who have done so for both pleasure and business and return to the US vowing they will never go back because of the significant air pollution and subsequent difficulty breathing. My father died from lung cancer, even being a life-long non-smoker. Knowing that 1) I have a potential genetic predisposition to lung cancer and that 2) my lungs have already sustained substantial damage from the multiple and various types of cancer therapy I have undergone, I pay attention to research that looks for additional ways to think about lungs and maintaining their health.

Thus this recent research article caught my eye. I actually read preliminary research pointing to the same findings years ago. So, this current research is again, one more reason I am a huge fan of kale and its various Brassica relatives and urge you to join me by eating (or drinking) kale or other Brassica vegetables most days of the year. I don't eat kale or its relatives 365 days per year, but I would bet my bottom dollar (i.e. even my farm!) that I come very close, eating some vegetable from the Brassica family ~300 time per year, which would be about 6 days per week.

My mission with this blog is to make that easy and enjoyable for you to do, too! :)

I am including the entire citation, complete with the abstract. There are some long chemical names in there, but the abstract is quite well written, and it is easy to follow the logic of the study design. There are many 'big names' on this paper who have been doing research looking at Brassica vegetables, biological mechanisms, and health outcomes for many years.

This study is testing 'real food' not isolated 'bio-active constituents' (National Cancer Institute 'speak'). Longer term (much longer term) follow-up studies need to be done to see if the reduced excretion levels of various 'undesirables' associated with the increased intake of these broccoli sprout-based teas will translate into reduced incidence of liver cancer or lung cancer or reduced incidence of conditions yet unforeseen.

Bottom line?  Please do not run out and buy pills hoping to achieve these results. Instead, to quote our friend in Vermont, "Eat More Kale!" It's various relative will also do fine, too.

Carcinogenesis. 2012 Jan;33(1):101-7. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Modulation of the metabolism of airborne pollutants by glucoraphanin-rich and sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout beverages in Qidong, China.

Kensler TWNg DCarmella SGChen MJacobson LPMuñoz AEgner PAChen JGQian GSChen TYFahey JWTalalay P,Groopman JDYuan JMHecht SS.


Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Epidemiological evidence has suggested that consumption of a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables reduces the risk of several types of cancers and chronic degenerative diseases. In particular, broccoli sprouts are a convenient and rich source of the glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, which can release the chemopreventive agent, sulforaphane, an inducer of glutathione S-transferases. Two broccoli sprout-derived beverages, one sulforaphane-rich (SFR) and the other glucoraphanin-rich (GRR), were evaluated for pharmacodynamic action in a crossover clinical trial design. Study participants were recruited from the farming community of He Zuo Township, Qidong, China, previously documented to have a high incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma with concomitant exposures to aflatoxin and more recently characterized with exposures to substantive levels of airborne pollutants. Fifty healthy participants were randomized into two treatment arms. The study protocol was as follows: a 5 days run-in period, a 7 days administration of beverage, a 5 days washout period and a 7 days administration of the opposite beverage. Urinary excretion of the mercapturic acids of acrolein, crotonaldehyde, ethylene oxide and benzene were measured both pre- and postinterventions using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Statistically significant increases of 20-50% in the levels of excretion of glutathione-derived conjugates of acrolein, crotonaldehyde and benzene were seen in individuals receiving SFR, GRR or both compared with their preintervention baseline values. No significant differences were seen between the effects of SFR versus GRR.

Intervention with broccoli sprouts may enhance detoxication of airborne pollutants and attenuate their associated health risks.

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

Dutch said...

thanks for the info. I have planted kale in my garden 2 years in a row. I am going to double it this year because I love finding new recipes to use.