University of Michigan (U-M) Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists say they've found a compound that could help prevent and potentially treat breast cancer. It's not a drug or a new radiation treatment but a natural component of broccoli and broccoli sprouts. And it has the remarkable ability to target cancer stem cells -- the specific cells responsible for fueling the growth of cancerous breast tumors.
The researchers tested the broccoli compound, known as sulforaphane, in animal studies as well as in breast cancer cell cultures in the lab. Their findings, which were recently published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, showed sulforaphane not only targeted and killed cancer stem cells, but it also prevented any new malignancies from growing.
What makes this such an extraordinary breakthrough? Current chemotherapies don't do anything to stop cancer stem cells. That's why cancer can recur and spread after chemotherapy. So many researchers have long believed that to control cancer, you have to find a way to eliminate cancer stem cells -- and now it appears sulforaphane does exactly that.