Eating two and a half ounces of baby broccoli daily for two months may protect against a common stomach bug that is linked to stomach cancer, a study in Japan has found.
Fresh broccoli sprouts contain plenty of sulforaphane, a natural biochemical that appears to trigger the production of enzymes in the gut that protect against oxygen radicals, DNA-damaging chemicals, and inflammation. It has long been known that sulforaphane is a potent antibiotic against Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer. But this is the first trial showing the effects of the compound on people.
In their study, the researchers gave 25 people in Japan who were infected with Helicobacter pylori 70 grams per day of broccoli sprouts for two months. Another 25 infected people consumed an equivalent amount of alfalfa sprouts which don't contain sulforaphane.
"We know that a dose of a couple ounces a day of broccoli sprouts is enough to elevate the body's protective enzymes," said Jed Fahey, nutritional biochemist in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "That is the mechanism by which we think a lot of the chemoprotective effects are occurring."
The World Health Organization classifies Helicobacter pylori as a carcinogen. It thrives in the lining of the stomach and afflicts several billion people, or half the world's population.