destroys cancer-causing bacterium
& Technology Desk
BALTIMORE, May 27 (UPI) -- A potent compound found in
broccoli destroys the bacterium that causes ulcers and stomach
cancers, new research released Monday reports.
The compound, called sulforaphane, killed Helicobacter
pylori, a tough, antibiotic-resistant bacterium that is
responsible for thousands of cases of ulcers and stomach
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore
and at the French National Scientific Research Center in
Paris, conducted laboratory tests on mice that showed
sulforaphane killed two types of resistant strains of H.
pylori both inside and outside the cell.
This is a key finding, researchers said, because destroying
disease-causing organisms at the intracellular level can be
difficult. In people particularly, the cells lining the
stomach can harbor H. pylori, making it harder to eradicate
"The fact (sulforaphane) is an antibacterial agent is an
unexpected discovery," researcher Dr. Paul Talalay, a
pharmacology professor at Johns Hopkins, told United Press
International. "What this says is there's really a two-pronged
approach to the problem ... so you have potential for double
Researchers said it is not clear whether sulforaphane in
broccoli can work like a magic bullet, as laboratory tests
suggest, or whether the compound must be used in pure
"Broccoli is highly variable in its content," Talalay said.
"It's not just any kind of broccoli," that would work.
Talalay declined to disclose what types of broccoli were
grown to extract the sulforaphane that was tested, though he
did say they were standard seeds and not genetically-modified.
Stomach cancer is not as common in the United States as it
is in Asia, South America and Africa, Talalay said, where H.
pylori infection rates are high. Already, scientists are
interested in studying the potential effects of sulforaphane
in Japan, a country with a high stomach cancer rate.
Talalay said broccoli has received a great deal of
attention in the past for its cancer-fighting properties, but
anecdotes from ulcer patients who reported relief from their
symptoms after consuming broccoli triggered scientists'
"This finding is interesting," Melanie Polk, director of
nutrition education for the American Institute for Cancer
Research in Washington and a registered dietitian, told UPI.
"This finding that (broccoli) has another function is even
more exciting. One more reason to include broccoli in your
This does not mean broccoli is a cure-all, Polk cautioned.
"It's important that we put this into perspective," she said.
"There are probably thousands of protective phytochemicals,"
yet to be discovered. "It's important to understand that
phytochemical research is really still in its infancy."
The findings will be published in the May 28 issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Reported by Katrina Woznicki in Washington) Copyright
© 2002 United Press International