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Broccoli sprout drink enhances detoxification of air pollutants

Broccoli sprouts waiting to be distributed
Broccoli sprouts waiting to be distributed
Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

There are deepening concerns about the effects of increased air pollution on our health. On the brighter side a clinical trial in China showed that broccoli sprout beverage enhances detoxification of pollutants in the air reported John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on June 16, 2014. It is hoped this finding will pave the way for inexpensive food-based preventive strategies.

Researchers included about 300 Chinese men and women residing in one of China’s most polluted regions in this clinical trial. It was observed that daily consumption of a half cup of broccoli sprout beverage produced rapid, significant and sustained higher levels of excretion of benzene, which is a known human carcinogen, and acrolein, which is a lung irritant. The researchers from Johns Hopkins used the broccoli sprout beverage to provide sulforaphane, which is a plant compound which has already been demonstrated to have cancer preventive properties in animal studies.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who worked with associates in China on this study have noted that air pollution is a very complex and pervasive public health problem. This study offers support for the development of food-based strategies to be used as part of an overall prevention effort. Air pollution causes as many as seven million deaths a year acrosss the world and in recent years has reached very high levels in many parts of China.

Just last year air pollution and particulate matter from air pollution were classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It has been observed that diets which are rich in cruciferous vegetables, of which broccoli is one, lower the risk of chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer. Broccoli sprouts have been found to be a source of glucoraphanin, which is a compound that generates sulforaphane when the plant is chewed or the beverage swallowed. Sulforaphane acts to increase enzymes which enhance the body’s capacity to expunge these types of the pollutants.

Broccoli sprouts are a very convenient and rich source of the glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, which has been found to generate the chemopreventive agent, sulforaphane, reports Cancer Prevention Research. Researchers have found intervention with broccoli sprouts enhances the detoxication of some airborne pollutants and may therefore offer an inexpensive way to lessen their associated long-term health risks. This is very significant since exposure to air pollution has been found to be associated with lung cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases.