As a child you detested broccoli, and could never really get to like it ever since. Now, studies suggest that including it in your diet can reduce the risk of liver cancer. What’s more, it also prevents the development of fatty liver.
Since broccoli consumption has previously been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon and prostate cancers, researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to see if there was a link between the vegetable and liver cancer and fatty liver, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Researcher Elizabeth Jeffery says that the majority of people eat a diet high in saturated fats and added sugars. However, both of these are stored in the liver and can be converted to body fat. Consuming a high-fat, high-sugar diet and having excess body fat is linked with the development of NAFLD, which can lead to diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. “We called this a Westernised-style diet in the study because we wanted to model how so many of us are eating today,” Jeffery says.
The team wanted to find out the impact of feeding broccoli to mice with a known liver cancer-causing carcinogen and so they studied four groups of mice; some of which were on a control diet or the Westernised diet and some were given or not given broccoli.
The study shows that in mice on the Westernised diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. But when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected. The study appears in Journal of Nutrition.