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Your Environment. Your Health.

Broccoli Sprout Beverage Helps Detoxify Air Pollutants

John Groopman, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
NIEHS Grant P01ES006052, P30ES003819

Research funded in part by NIEHS has shown that drinking a broccoli sprout beverage daily can enhance the detoxification of some airborne pollutants. This inexpensive food-based intervention may provide a way to decrease the long-term health risks of air pollution.

The researchers conducted a clinical trial that included 291 men and women living in a rural farming community in Jiangsu Province, China, an area that experiences high levels of air pollution due to its proximity to Shanghai. Broccoli sprouts provide a good source of glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane when consumed. Sulforaphane has been shown to increase levels of enzymes involved in detoxification. During the 12-week trial, the researchers asked one group of study participants to drink a broccoli sprout-derived beverage that provided daily doses of 600 micromol glucoraphanin and 40 micromol sulforaphane while a control group of participants consumed a drink that did not contain broccoli sprouts.

For participants receiving the broccoli sprout beverage, the rate of excretion of the carcinogen benzene increased 61 percent on the first day and was maintained throughout the 12 weeks. The rate of excretion of the irritant acrolein rapidly increased 23 percent during the 12-week trial. Additional analyses indicated that sulforaphane might activate the signaling molecule NRF2, which increases the capacity to adapt to and survive a broad range of environmental toxins.

Citation: Egner PA, Chen JG, Zarth AT, Ng D, Wang J, Kensler KH, Jacobson LP, Munoz A, Johnson JL, Groopman JD, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Zhu J, Chen TY, Qian GS, Carmella SG, Hecht SS, Kensler TW. 2014. Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China. Cancer Prev Res (Phila); doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0103 [Online 9 June 2014].

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