Vegetables that have a naturally occurring compound called 13C improve DNA repair in cells, this in turn helps stop them becoming cancerous, say researchers at Georgetown University, Washington, USA. You can read about this study in the British Journal of Cancer.

Rosen (2006) British Journal of Cancer 94 (3)

The researchers also found that geistein, which is found in soy beans, also enhances DNA repair in cells (protecting them from becoming cancerous).

Previous studies have indicated there is a link between eating such foods and cancer protection. This study actually puts forward a molecular mechanism on why this happens.

Genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 are repair proteins – they prevent damaged genetic information being passed on to the next generation of cells. If your BRCA genes are faulty you have a higher risk of developing cancer, especially cancer of the breast, ovary and prostate.

Cancer cells have lower levels of BRCA proteins, so higher levels should prevent the cancer from thriving. 13C and genistein increase the amount of BRCA proteins, which in turn raise your defences against cancer(s). 13C and geistein raise levels of both BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Professor Eliot Rosen, team leader, said “Studies that monitor people’s diets and their health have found links between certain types of food and cancer risk. However, before we can say a food protects against cancer, we have to understand how it does this at a molecular level. It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat. Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention.”

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today