Broccoli linked to decreased risk of advanced prostate cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

Canadian researchers have found evidence that men who eat plenty of dark green and 'cruciferous' vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, may be less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancers that spread to other tissues.

However, the researchers themselves pointed out that the result might be due other factors.

"Individuals with high intakes of fruits and vegetables generally have lower rates of smoking, higher levels of physical activity, and a more healthy lifestyle than those with low intakes. These associations could confound the prostate cancer association," they commented in the paper, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The research team, led by Dr Victoria Kirsch of Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, asked 1,338 prostate cancer patients to complete a questionnaire in which they provided details on how often they ate 137 different items of food.

Although researchers found no link between eating vegetables and decreased prostate cancer risk in general, the risk of invasive prostate cancer, defined as stage III or IV disease, was lower for those patients who ate more than one serving of broccoli or cauliflower per week.

The authors wrote: "Aggressive prostate cancer is biologically virulent and associated with poor prognosis.

"Therefore, if the association that we observed is ultimately found to be causal, a possible means to reduce the burden of this disease may be primary prevention through increased consumption of broccoli [and] cauliflower."

Several lines of evidence have suggested there are substances in cruciferous vegetables that might be useful to prevent or treat cancer.

Cancer Research UK is supporting a trial, CRISP-1, to ascertain whether one such chemical might help treat women who have had an abnormal cervical smear.