Broccoli juice as sunscreen?

May 31, 2008

As my friends will testify, vegetables and I are not on very intimate terms and broccoli is something I avoid at all costs. But I may change my mind because of it’s newly discovered potential as a sunscreen. Apparently an extract made from broccoli boosts the body’s natural ability to defend against the sun’s ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer. According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the USA, an extract of broccoli sprouts contains high levels of sulforaphane and gives substantial protection. Co-leader of the study, Paul Talalay, first discovered in 1992 that broccoli is rich in a naturally occurring plant compound called sulforaphane. While all cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, turnip, radish and watercress) contain it to a certain degree, the concentration is highest in three-day-old sprouts of the broccoli plant.

Sulforaphane has the effect of activating cells’ production of what are known as “phase 2 enzymes.” One such enzyme, glutathione S-transferase, has been shown to neutralize the DNA-damaging compounds produced by the skin produces when struck by ultraviolet radiation. It also appears to reduce inflammation, which can cause precancerous growths to transform into full-blown cancerous tumors. Only a very small (6 person) trial has been done on this but they are enthusiastic about developing a new sunscreen product as many of the commercial products contain chemicals that are themselves potentially carcinogenic. However, unless they can get broccoli juice to smell more pleasant (I may not eat many vegetables but I do juice them) it will be no competition to my preferred choice which is the all-natural organic sun range from Annemarie Borlind.


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