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A trial looking at the effect of sulforaphane on prostate cancer (ESCAPE)
This trial looked at the effect of a natural substance called sulforaphane on prostate cancer cells.
The trial was open for people to join between 2013 and 2015. The team published results in 2019.
More about this trial
We know from research that eating fresh fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of some cancers. This may be due to natural substances in the fruit and vegetables.
Sulforaphane is a natural substance in broccoli. When this trial was done, there was evidence to suggest that sulforaphane may affect the development of prostate cancer. Researchers wanted to find out if it can help prevent prostate cancer.
In this trial, men with prostate cancer ate broccoli soup once a week for a year. Some of the men had soup made from broccoli that had higher levels of glucoraphanin than normal broccoli. Glucoraphanin is converted into sulforaphane in the body.
The research team took samples of cancer cells when the men joined the trial, and a year later. They looked for cell changes and compared the results for different groups.
The main aim of this trial was to find out whether sulforaphane has an effect on prostate cancer cells.
Summary of results
The research team found that sulforaphane does have an effect on prostate cancer cells.
This trial was for men who had early stage prostate cancer that was contained in the prostate gland. They were having regular check ups and blood tests, but didn’t need treatment. This is called active surveillance.
The men taking part had broccoli soup once a week for a year. They were put into 1 of 3 groups at random:
- group 1 had regular broccoli soup with normal levels of glucoraphanin
- group 2 had broccoli soup with high levels of glucoraphanin
- group 3 had broccoli soup with extra high levels of glucoraphanin
A total of 61 men joined this trial. There were:
- 20 men in group 1 (regular soup)
- 23 men in group 2 (high glucoraphanin)
- 18 men in group 3 (extra high glucoraphanin)
The results showed that men who had soup with high and extra high levels of glucoraphanin, had fewer cell changes. This is in comparison to those who had regular broccoli soup.
The cancer seemed to grow more in the men who had regular broccoli soup. This is in comparison to those who had soup with high and extra high levels of glucoraphanin. But the difference wasn’t big enough to say for sure that it was because of the soup. It may have been due to chance.
The research team concluded that broccoli soup with extra glucoraphanin did affect cell changes. And may help stop prostate cancer growing.
They suggest other trials are done to find out more.
More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the reference below.
Please note, this article may not be in plain English. It has been written for health care professionals and researchers.
Transcriptional changes in prostate of men on active surveillance after a 12-mo glucoraphanin-rich broccoli intervention-results from the Effect of Sulforaphane on prostate CAncer PrEvention (ESCAPE) randomized controlled trial
M Traka, and others
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019. Volume 109, Issue 4, pages 1133–1144.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. It has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Richard Mithen
Quadram Institute Bioscience
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation