What is Sulforaphane?
Sulforaphane which is a phytochemical belongs to the family of isothiocyanates and is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli sprouts and kale. Broccoli sprouts is known to be the richest source of Sulforaphane. It is a phytochemical, which means it is biologically-activated when the human body breaks its chemical components free of the sugar molecule glucosinolate that it is bound to in plants. There are a range of health benefits that the compound brings to the human diet, but chief among them is its ability to act as an antioxidant and bind to free radical oxygen molecules that can cause cellular damage. Because of this activity, it is a natural cancer preventative and has been indicated specifically as being capable of reducing the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Benefits of taking Sulforaphane supplements:
Sulforaphane is used to treat a variety of cancers, including prostate cancer, glioma and breast cancer. According to a study published in a 2005 issue of «The Journal of Biological Chemistry,» sulforaphane causes death in human prostate cancer cells. It inhibits cell proliferation in glioma and breast cancer, which can prevent metastasis. When taken by healthy individuals, sulforaphane may prevent cancer from developing.
Sulforaphane shows promise in the treatment of ulcer disease and the prevention of gastric cancer. A 2008 study done by researchers at the Tokyo University of Science found that sulforaphane killed Helicobactor pylori bacteria and prevented gastric atrophy. These bacteria are the most common cause of ulcer disease, and are strongly associated with gastric cancer. Aside from its bactericidal properties, sulforaphane also protects gastric mucosa against oxidative stress, which reduces gastric cancer risk.
Preliminary research suggests that sulforaphane may be useful in treating osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by cartilage degeneration due to chondrocyte cell death. A research article published in a 2011 issue of the «Journal of Cellular Physiology» noted that sulforaphane protected chondrocyte cells against various stimuli that usually caused death in these cells, which resulted in decreased cellular death rates. Further research is being undertaken to determine whether sulforaphane is a viable treatment option for osteoarthritis.
Sulforaphane can be used to promote heart health by reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which reduce the risk of developing heart disease, especially in high risk people. It has also been shown to protect the retinas against light-induced retinal damage. A rare, genetic disease called epidermolysis bullosa simplex, which is currently untreatable, is responding to treatment with sulforaphane, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who published a study in the September 2007 issue of «PNAS.»
How does Sulforaphane work?
During the fight against cancer cells our body produces special enzymes, called phase 2 enzymes. Sulforaphane is a phase 2 enzyme inducer, thereby neutralizing carcinogens before they can damage DNA. Sulforaphane inhibits benzo[a]pyrene-DNA and 1,6-dinitropyrene-DNA adducts formation. A study by James D. Brooks et al entitled Potent Induction of Phase 2 Enzymes in Human Prostate Cells by Sulforaphane has shown that sulforaphane induces phase 2 enzyme expression and activity in human prostate cells. This study may help to explain the lower prostate cancer risk with men who consume more cruciferous vegetables.
A team of scientists lead by B. Abbouit at the Ohio State University investigated the effect of isothiocyanates (sulforaphane and erucin) in primary or secondary bladder cancer prevention. Both phytochemicals showed inhibition of bladder cancer cells, which was associated down regulation of survivin, epidermal growth factor receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and apoptosis.
A 2012 study by the Texas Children’s Hospital suggested a potential role of sulforaphane as an adjunctive agent to improve the therapeutic response in acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. This type of cancer is the most common hematological cancer in children. The scientists found that purified sulforaphane had anticancer properties in a broad range of leukemic cells. More specifically they found that sulforaphane caused dose-dependent apoptosis and cell cycle arrest, mainly by activation of caspases. While sulforaphane killed cancer cells, it did not affect healthy cells. It should be noted that the levels of sulforaphane used in this study were quite high and cannot be obtained by eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.
Side effects and safety of Sulforaphane
No major adverse effects have been reported with sulforaphane supplements, but comprehensive studies have not been performed. Maximum safe doses in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease are not known.
NOTE: Sulforaphane has shown the potential for interacting with numerous medications. For this reason, we recommend that people taking any oral or injected medication that is critical to their health or well-being avoid using sulforaphane supplements until more is known.
Dosage of Sulforaphane supplement:
Typical dosage ranges from 200 to 400 mcg daily. (Product is standardized to contain a minimum amount of sulforaphane). Upon oral administration, broccoli extract is absorbed rapidly reaching peak plasma concentration after 1 hour. The bioavailability of sulforaphane varies greatly between individuals. The appropriate dose of sulforaphane depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine a precise dosage for sulforaphane. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.