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Among all cancer-preventative mechanisms studied by nutritional researchers, none have
been as far reaching as the mechanisms involving one unique family of phytonutrients, ‘the
glucosinolates’ found in no other food group to the same extent that they are found in
cruciferous vegetables.

For every specific glucosinolate, there are corresponding anti-cancer compounds produced
following the action of the myrosinase enzyme. The molecules formed from enzymatic activity
in glucosinolates are called isothiocynates (ITCs). While most cruciferous vegetables contain
several dozen different glucosinates in significantly health–supportive amounts, some
glucosinolates have been better researched than others. Isothiocynates (ITCs) formed from
glucosinolates are known to help prevent cancer. Sometimes the ITCs deactivate potential
cancer–causing substances before they can damage a cell’s genetic material (DNA). At
other times, they deter communications between cells in such a way that healthy cells are
prevented from becoming cancerous.

In the case of hormone sensitive cancers, ITC’s can modify the metabolism of hormones like
estrogen in such a way that the risk of cancer is decreased. ITCs can also increase
detoxification of toxic substances that might otherwise increase cancer risk. There is also
evidence that ITCs may be able to help change the course of cancers in all cells once those
cancers have occurred.

Taken as a whole, cruciferous vegetables have an impact on cancer prevention as well as a
potential to modify activities in cells that have already become cancerous. What makes
these cancer directed impacts seem logical to us are the many findings about cruciferous
vegetables and their support for three body systems that are so critical to the development
or non-development of cancers. These three body systems are the detoxification system,
the inflammatory system, and the anti-oxidant system.

Next week we will take a closer look at cruciferous vegetables and their support of these
three body systems in order to understand how this food group helps keep us optimally

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