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Study suggests protective effect for broccoli against nonalcoholic fatty liver, liver cancer

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

March 7 2016The March 1, 2016 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported the outcome of research that revealed an association between a broccoli-supplemented diet and a lower risk of fatty liver and liver cancer in obese mice.

“We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S.,” observed lead researcher Elizabeth Jeffery, of the University of Illinois. “It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men.”

The researchers fed mice a Western diet high in lard and sucrose with or without freeze dried broccoli, or a standard control diet. The animals subsequently received weekly injections of a carcinogen that has the potential to induce tumors in the liver and other organs. “We wanted to look at this liver carcinogen in mice that were either obese or not obese,” Dr Jeffery explained. “We did not do it using a genetic strain of obese mice, but mice that became obese the way that people do, by eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet.”

While the Western diet was associated with in an increase in the number and size of cancerous liver nodules, mice that received broccoli developed fewer nodules. “That was what we really set out to show,” Dr Jeffery remarked. “But on top of that we were looking at the liver health.”

“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it,” she said. “Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver.”

Previous research conducted by Dr Jeffery found that chopping or steaming broccoli was the best way to enhance the availability of sulforaphane, broccoli’s anticancer compound.

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