SOUTHAMPTON, England, Sept. 20 (UPI) — British researchers say a plant compound in watercress may suppress breast cancer.
Graham Packham and colleagues at the University of Southampton say the compound — phenylethyl isothiocyanate — seems to interfere with the function of a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor that helps cancer develop.
The researchers suggest the watercress compound may be instrumental in “turning off” a signal in the body that results in the growing tumor to be starved of essential blood and oxygen.
“The research takes an important step towards understanding the potential health benefits of this crop since it shows that eating watercress may interfere with a pathway that has already been tightly linked to cancer development,” Packham said in a statement.
The researchers performed a pilot study in which a small group of breast cancer survivors fasted before eating a cereal bowl full of watercress before giving a series of blood samples over the next 24 hours.
The researchers detected significant levels of phenylethyl isothiocyanate in the women’s blood following the watercress meal and found the function of the protein Hypoxia Inducible Factor was also measurably affected in their blood cells.
The findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition and Biochemical Pharmacology and were presented at the Breast Cancer Research Conference in Nottingham, England.
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