They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a few daily servings of broccoli can ward off cancer. So says a new study out of Great Britain. Not only does the study show broccoli’s anti-cancerous effects, but it shows just how the cruciferous vegetable does it.

According to researchers, isothiocyanate–a chemical found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and watercress–sparks a cascade of genetic effects which ultimately provide the body protection against cancer. Broccoli, however, is particularly powerful since it also contains the compound called sulforaphane, which may give it an extra cancer-fighting kick.

The study looked specifically at men with precancerous lesions of the prostrate, and found that by eating four extra servings of broccoli each week, genetic changes occurred such that certain cancer-fighting genes were turned on while other genes, those which tend to fuel tumors, were turned off. Brilliant! According to Richard Mithen, biologist at Britain’s Institute of Food Research, and one of the study’s authors, “When people get cancer some genes are switched off and some are switched on. What broccoli seems to be doing is switching on genes which prevent cancer developing and switching off other ones that help it spread.”

So there you have it: Reason to start pounding this stuff. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men following lung cancer. Each year some 680,000 men worldwide are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 220,000 will die from it. So fellas, eat your broccoli by the bushel full. And women, you eat it too, since scientists believe that the cancer-protective effects of broccoli extend to other tissues besides the prostate. Remember, a large percentage of illnesses plaguing society are preventable. Now you know.

Check out this cool broccoli-blog.

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