Vegetable Compound May Shrink Breast Tumors

Breast cancer tumors in mouse model shrunk in presence of phenethyl isothiocyanate

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A compound found in vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale has been studied for its effect on cancer. Recently, its potential benefits may have been expanded.

Researchers learned that this compound shrinks tumors in a mouse model that is similar to human breast cancer progression.

"Follow mom's advice - eat your vegetables."

The study led by Shivendra V. Singh, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, fed mice two different types of diets.

One group of the animals had a typical diet, while the other group ate food that was supplemented with phenethyl isothiocyante (PEITC) for 29 weeks.

Scientists made thorough assessments of tumor types, incidence, size and contributing growth factors at the end of the study period.

Tumors in mice that consumed the extra PEITC were reduced by more than half. There was a 56.3 percent reduction in mammary carcinoma lesions (breast cancers) greater than 2mm, which is about the width of a US quarter.

"Although PEITC administration does not confer complete protection against mammary carcinogenesis, mice placed on the PEITC-supplemented diet, compared with mice placed on the control diet, clearly exhibited suppression of carcinoma progression," the authors write.

Breast cancer isn't the only cancer that responds to this compound in animal studies. PEITC has been shown to be effective in shrinking tumors in mice with colon, intestinal and prostate cancers.

It works by inducing apoptosis, a process in which cells - in this case cancer cells - commit suicide.

The researchers also discovered two biomarkers (indicators of disease) that may be able to be used to produce new anti-cancer therapies.

This - and all animal studies - are very early discoveries. It will likely take years to develop drugs based on these findings.

The study was published August 2 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Neither funding information nor financial disclosures were available.

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Review Date: 
August 6, 2012
Last Updated:
September 6, 2012