Cancer risk and stress

November 17, 2008 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

The International Journal of Oncology has been looking at whether the stress in your life can cause you to develop cancer, and the answer lies in your diet. Particularly in vegetables such as that Christmas favourite, the brussel sprout.

These are very stressful times, so anything we can do to help our bodies deal with it will also help us avoid diseases like cancer. We know that stress impacts our immune systems and ability to fight off invading organisms so that we become more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. This current study goes a long way toward documenting the link between stress and cancer and stressing the importance of our own role in preventing illness.

Chronic high levels of stress result in chronic high levels of norepinephrine and adrenaline. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is similar to adrenaline and these hormones act together to produce increased heart rate and blood pressure – the precursor to our ‘fight or flight’ mode. So how do you inhibit the production of norepinephrine in this stress-filled times? You increase the amount of sulforaphane in your diet. This is a compound that you get from eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, turnip, radish, rocket, and watercress.

Sulforaphane has potent anticancer activity that triggers the production of enzymes that help detoxify cancer-causing chemicals and is particularly abundant in broccoli sprouts. A concentrated extract from broccoli sprouts may cut the development of bladder cancer by more than 50% and researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that eating just one ounce of broccoli sprouts provides as much sulforaphane as more than a pound of cooked broccoli. The have devised a product, called Brocco Sprouts, that is on sale in supermarkets in the USA but in the UK your choice is a bit more limited.

The healthiest option is to grow your own sprouting seeds and you can get broccoli sprouts from here and apparently they are good in sandwiches, mild rather like alfalfa. Personally, as a total non-broccoli fan I get my cruciferous boost by juicing with the addition of a sweet apple and carrot which is the only way I can deal with them!

If eating healthy amounts of cruciferous vegetables does not appeal to you, try adding broccoli sprouts to a sandwich or salad. Broccoli sprouts don’t have to be eaten daily to provide their full effect. A one ounce serving is good for three days worth of full spectrum antioxidant protection from sulforaphane comparable to the best antioxidant supplements on the market. A box of sprouts contains four of these servings and retails for about 4 dollars.

Juicing is another good way to consume cruciferous vegetables, particularly if you have digestive difficulties. You can add cruciferous vegetables to your vegetable juice recipes. One large stalk of broccoli makes only about an inch of power packed juice in a glass, so it doesn’t have a huge impact on the taste of the recipe.

Supplements of broccoli sprouts are available at health food stores and online health retailers such as Vitacost or Lucky Vitamin. The best known is called Broccoliv. Vitacost has a less costly house brand.