The World's Healthiest Foods

Cruciferous Vegetables Substantially Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Extensive research has consistently shown that a high intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of many cancers, but studies assessing a possible link between fruit and vegetable consumption and prostate cancer risk have been inconsistent. Now, new research suggests that vegetable intake, especially consumption of cruciferous vegetables that rank among the World's Healthiest Foods, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, may be the critical factor.

Investigators at the Cancer Prevention Research Program of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, looked at the total fruit and vegetable intakes of 628 men under 65 years of age in King County (the area around Seattle), who were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and compared them with 602 men without prostate cancer.

Although prostate cancer risk was not affected by fruit intake, men who ate 28 or more servings of vegetables per week had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate fewer than 14 servings per week. The real winners, the men least likely to develop prostate cancer were those who ate three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables every week. Crucifer-loving men had a 41% decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate less than one serving per week, even after the researchers accounted for total vegetable intake.

Why are crucifers so critical to men's health? Researchers speculate that the protective effect of cruciferous vegetables is due to their high concentration of isothiocyanates since these plant compounds activate the liver enzymes responsible for detoxifying carcinogens.

For suggestions as to how to enjoy cruciferous vegetables, truly some of the World's Healthiest Foods, more often, click on the Recipe Assistant, select any of crucifers on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing the crucifer chosen will appear immediately below.

Cohen JH, Kristal AR, Stanford JL. Fruit and vegetable intakes and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst 2000 Jan 5;92(1):61-8