Powerful vegetable compound that uproots cancer at the source

When conventional doctors treat cancer they usually can’t get to the root of the problem. But a natural chemical in certain vegetables can stop cancer and make sure it never comes back.

A study at South Dakota State University shows that substances in cruciferous vegetables can stem the threat of cancer by wiping out cancerous stem cells. That’s important for vanquishing this health threat: Even after a tumor has been removed, those cells, which conventional treatments don’t touch, can reproduce and allow cancer to come back again and again.

When you chew on cruciferous vegetables, (that includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts), an enzyme and a “precursor compound” in the plant combine in the body to yield a chemical called phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). The lab tests in South Dakota show that PEITC possesses potent anti-cancer properties.

Cancer stem cells only make up a tiny, tiny part of a tumor. But they’re dangerous. They can blossom into a new tumor, regrow tumors that have been treated and they can flee through the blood stream and spread cancer throughout the body. Only recently have researchers even become aware of the existence of these cellular villains.

“These tiny cells are very difficult to detect in a tumor,” says researcher Moul Dey. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Dey notes that the concentrations of PEITC that she and her fellow researchers used in the lab to kill cancer stem cells (between 5 and 15 micromolars) are small enough to demonstrate that eating cruciferous vegetables everyday should enable your body to go after cancer stem cells. Watercress and land cress are particularly rich in the compounds that help.

Eating those vegetables is important for anyone concerned with cancer – whether you’ve ever had cancer or not.

Since the cancer-fighting compounds are unleashed by chewing, it might be a good idea to make a salad with watercress, the slim, crisp member of the mustard family. You can find many recipes online at sites like Epicurious. Watercress has a little peppery flavor to it, so it’s also great on sandwiches.



Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.