Green veggie compound kills cancer cells

Natural compounds found in cabbages and brussel spouts have been used to kill cancer cells.

Researchers at the UK’s University of Lancaster fed cancer cells with doses of around 350mg of the natural compound 13C, roughly the same amount found in a trolley-full of cabbages.

When the compound was used together with common chemotherapy drugs, the tumour cells died.

Professor Margaret Manson said the trials were in the early stages but could eventually benefit cancer patients.

Speaking at the National Cancer Research Institute Conference in Birmingham, she said: ‘Obviously, in humans you would want to reverse the cancer, but if you could even halt it so it does not progress further, that would be beneficial.

‘Usually what kills patients is metastatic cancer, where it spreads around the body.

‘Although we need to carry out further studies on tumours removed from patients, the potential benefits are clear.’

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council, involved using I3C on four different types of breast cancer cells. The findings were published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

Professor Manson said the compound appeared to alter the molecules in three of the cell types, making them more vulnerable to anticancer drugs.

Combining the compound with chemotherapy drugs therefore enhanced the drugs’ effectiveness.

It is thought that I3C, which is also found in broccoli, cauliflower, kale and watercress, may have a similar impact on colon cancer cells.

Professor Manson added: ‘We will repeat the studies on cells derived directly from patient tumours which have been surgically removed.”