A trial looking at the effect of sulforaphane on prostate cancer (ESCAPE)

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer





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.

Trial design
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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in medical journal. We have not analysed the data ourselves. As far as we are aware, the link we list above is active and the article is free and available to view.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Richard Mithen

Supported by

Quadram Institute Bioscience
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

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