Can broccoli be a cure for cancer?

When they diagnosed him with bladder cancer five years ago, oncologists told Ray Wiseman, a 79-year-old grandfather that the disease would probably kill him. Scans now show that his cancer has stopped spreading. Wiseman puts this down to the broccoli juice his wife Joan has whizzed up for him every morning since his diagnosis.

Could she be on to something?

The Wisemans’ claim that Cancer Research has asked for the recipe so it can investigate further. A spokeswoman at the head office of Cancer Research UK knows nothing about such a request, but does admit that broccoli is intriguing for cancer scientists.

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage contain a group of phytochemicals that seem to have cancer-preventing properties. One recent study found that these substances could enhance DNA repair in cells. Another found that men who ate one daily portion of broccoli had altered patterns of gene activity in their prostates. But it was a small study and more research is needed.

Singling out broccoli as an anti-cancer superfood is therefore meaningless. Cancer Research UK advises that broccoli should be eaten as part of a healthy diet, since studies show clearly that eating a diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables can lower the risk of developing many forms of cancer.

Wiseman is among 10 000 people diagnosed with bladder cancer every year in the UK.

But since the biggest preventable cause of bladder cancer is smoking — which causes around two in three cases in men and one in three cases in women — there are probably more straightforward places to start. —

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