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The World in Medicine
December 21, 2005

Of Cabbages and Cancer

JAMA. 2005;294(23):2961. doi:10.1001/jama.294.23.2961-c

Eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli may help protect some individuals from developing lung cancer, according to a new report by French researchers (Brennan et al. Lancet. 2005;366:1558-1560).

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in isothiocyanates, which have been shown in animals to protect against lung cancer. Enzymes encoded by two genes, GSTM1 and GSTT1, eliminate isothiocyanates from the body. Because individuals who have inactive forms of these genes have higher concentrations of isothiocyanates in their systems, the researchers hypothesized that people with the inactive forms of GSTM1 and GSTT1 would be less likely to develop lung cancer than those with active forms of the genes.

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