Bravo for the brassica that decreases liver cancer

Your liver is your body’s largest organ, and it plays a major role in your well-being. Not only does it make many of the chemicals necessary for your body to function but it also acts as a storage unit for essential vitamins like vitamin B-12, folic acid, iron, vitamin D and vitamin K.

But perhaps your liver’s most challenging job is as your body’s detoxifier. Your liver takes a major hit daily by metabolizing toxins from alcohol, drugs, chemicals and food. And, depending on how health-conscious you are, your liver may be working overtime to keep your body up and running.

Considering all your liver does for you, it’s only fair that you show your liver some love –and one of the best ways according to recent research, is to eat a cancer-fighting vegetable that is notoriously good for your health… broccoli.

Broccoli’s full of bioactive compounds

If you were one of those kids who secretly fed their broccoli to the family dog under the table, it’s about time you give broccoli another chance… at least if you want a healthy, cancer-free liver.

For most of us, it’s hard to get away from the excessive amounts of sugar and saturated fat in the standard American diet. And we don’t eat nearly enough vegetables. But a diet like this tends to overload your liver and lead to fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and, eventually, liver cancer.

Broccoli, however, is a brassica vegetable that contains the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. It also contains bioactive compounds that prevent your liver from storing too much fat. And, believe me, you don’t want a fatty liver… it not only leads to cirrhosis but also to hepatocellular carcinoma, one of the deadliest forms of liver cancer.

To measure the liver-healing benefits of broccoli, researchers at the University of Illinois fed mice a Westernized diet and then monitored its effect on their livers. It’s no surprise that the diet not only resulted in fatty liver but in more cancer nodules (and larger cancer nodules at that). Once researchers added broccoli to the mice’s diet, however, the number of cancer nodules decreased. That means new nodules stopped growing.

“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” said Elizabeth Jeffery, an emeritus professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Best ways to get broccoli’s benefits

Researchers recommend that you eat broccoli three to five times per week to prevent liver cancer, as well as breast, prostate and colon cancers.

To reap the greatest cancer-fighting benefits, you should chop your broccoli and eat it raw (maybe on top of a salad) or lightly steam it. These preparation methods make sure you are getting as much of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane as possible.

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Broccoli may offer protection against liver cancer, study shows
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and