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October 21, 2010 | 2 minute read

Broccoli Sprouts: Extending Cell Life; Delaying Cancer?

AICR’s “It’s Never Too Late” campaign kicked off today, and it was launched in parallel with presentations at our Annual Research Conference on the latest findings in the field of lifestyle links with aging and cancer. The topic is the opening session of the conference and Trygve Tollefsbol, PhD, of the University of Alabama, just presented on how dietary intake – or restriction –influence genes related to both aging and cancer.

Dr. Tollefsbol’s lab is looking at how plant compounds influence cells and for over a decade he has focused on cell’s epigenetic changes, the turning “on” and “off” of genes. Epigenetic is not about what we inherit, but about how what a person eats and other life choices can affect our genes and thereby, affect aging and diseases such as cancer.

Here, Tollefsbol presented his research showing that sulforaphane, a compound in cruciferous vegetables, leads to epigenetic changes that lead to reductions in the amount of telomerase, a protein that produces telomeres. Most cancer cells need telomerase to multiply. Most healthy cells don’t have telomerase. (Telomerase produces telomeres, strips of DNA on the tips of our cells that shorten as we age.)

The amount of sulforaphane Dr. Tollefsbol used in the studies equaled about one cup of broccoli sprouts.

There will be more on his research and cruciferous vegetable research later in the conference. Stay tuned.

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