Posts Tagged ‘broccoli and cancer stem cells’

Broccoli and Watercress Sprouts Fight Cancer

In Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, antioxidants, aromatase inhibitors, Books for Cancer Patients, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, cancer stem cells and recurrence, colon cancer, COVID-19, Integrative Oncology, Iodine, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, prostate cancer, Uncategorized on March 28, 2020 at 9:12 am

[Editor’s note] This post was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated and republished in March 2019

It is well known that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and watercress contain powerful anticancer compounds. But did you know that eating their respective sprouts can supercharge the health benefits? Sprouts are high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system.

In sprout form these little three to four day old plants contain almost 100 times the level of cancer-fighting sulforaphane than the mature plants. The phytonutrients in these sprouts up-regulate antioxidant enzymes and detoxification processes which clear toxic compounds from the body. And, that is just the beginning—read on to find out how sprouts knock the socks off cancer.

 What’s in a Sprout

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), such as sulforaphane, are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They support matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity which reduces the breakdown of connective tissue within a cell that impede the expansion of existing tumors. Matrix MMP-9 plays important roles in tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Secretion of MMP-9 has been reported in various cancer types including lung, colon, and breast cancer.

ITCs also kill off cancer cells, including cancer stem cells, which is essential for combating cancer metastases. Isothiocyanates restrain certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.

The ITC sulforaphane helps support the anti-inflammatory Nrf2 pathway which protects cells against oxidative and free radical activity. It supports the detoxification process by inducing Phase 2 detoxification enzymes, inhibiting the activation of pro-carcinogens, and  by boosting cellular glutathione levels.  Sulforaphane promotes cancer cell death and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. It also supports the immune system and in particular, increases Natural Killer Cell activity.

Sulforaphane also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that increases one’s risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.  It is also anti-viral and has been found effective against the Epstein Barr Virus and may be helpful against Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Quercetin, another potent antioxidant highly concentrated in sprouts, is a strong anti-inflammatory and prevents tumor cell growth.  It also aids in the removal of excess estrogen from the body — it stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents.

Lutein is another powerful antioxidant that neutralizes cancer-causing free radicals (it is also essential for many things, including eye health, protecting against macular degeneration, and for maintaining strong eye tissue). Lutein (and zeaxanthin) may be beneficial to cardio health by preventing hardening of the arteries.

Glutathione has been labeled the ‘mother of all antioxidants” due to its incredible ability to disarm free radicals, detoxify the body, and boost the immune system.

Broccoli Sprouts

broccoli-sproutsBroccoli sprouts are extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon, and breast cancers. Compounds in broccoli speed up the removal of estrogen from the body, helping to suppress breast cancer. They also target cancer stem cells, the cells responsible for metastasis.

Broccoli sprouts contain a high amount of the cancer-busting and immune boosting substance sulforaphane. They are also abundant in quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, and the metabolic substance DIM, which is a natural aromatase inhibitor.

Broccoli sprouts are rich in cholesterol reducing fiber and have anti-viral and anti-ulcer activity. They are also a super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.


Watercress Sproutswatercress-sprouts

Sometimes called peppergrass, watercress is delicious and pungent. It is also one of the most nutrient-dense foods known. It is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, including lutein. Watercress also offers significant quercetin, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), flavanols such a kaempferol, lycopene, indole-3 carbinol (13C), sulforaphane, as well as DIM. It is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin C, A and K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and contains trace amounts of omega 3’s. Watercress is one of the best food sources of iodine for vegans.

Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. PEITC reduces the growth of breast cancer cells, triggers apoptosis (cancer cell death), and decreases angiogenesis. It inhibits the growth of HER2 expression as well as cancer metastasis.

PEITC (also found in some other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli) deactivates mutant p53 in tumor cells but leaves normal p53 alone. P53 regulates cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way. A mutation in p53 is a permanent change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Loss of p53 function can be deleterious, and about 50% of all human cancers have a mutated p53 gene.

Watercress has antioxidant, antigenotoxic (the process by which chemical agents damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against breast, colon, and other cancers.

Watercress and broccoli affect all stages of cancer: initiation, proliferation, and metastasis. So, what’s not to love about these sprouts? Plus, it is a lot easier to consume a handful of sprouts than it is to down a pound and a half of broccoli or an enormous plate of watercress– which, for example,  is the amount it would take to get an equivalent amount of sulforaphane.

Add sprouts to your smoothies; use on sandwiches, on top of pizza, in salads, and as a garnish for soups. I make wonderful gluten-free pizza crusts using cauliflower or garbanzo bean flour, and pile the pizza high with arugula and sprouts just before serving.  Yum!

Just a reminder that while  eating cruciferous vegetables is a important for overall optimal health, it may support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Choose to consume cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radish, and kale). It is necessary to have sufficient iodine in the diet when consuming high quantities  (including DIM).

Can’t find sprouts locally or worried about others handling your raw vegetables?  Grow your own. You can grow your own sprouts and now it is easier than ever (no changing the water several times a day, just add water to the tray day one and done. Here is my first tray of Hamama salad green sprouts.. Next up are broccoli sprouts.  Order your own Hamama sprout kit.

Hamama Sprouts

Hamama Salad Green Sprouts

Here is a great book if you wish to learn more about growing your own sprouts: Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days

Curcera-SGS is an excellent supplement if you cannot find or grow broccoli sprouts.

In your everlasting good health,


~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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Elyn Jacobs does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment.  This post is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.  I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!


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Cancer Stem Cells—Could They Be the Key to Metastasis?

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2015 at 8:36 am

Cancer Stem Cells–a missing link in the war against cancer. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are at the center of a theory that seeks to explain why cancer can sometimes return, despite apparently effective treatment.  Cancer stem cells not only survive most conventional treatments, but are often responsible for recurrent and progressive disease.

Research has shown that cancer cells are not all the same. The stem cell theory proposes that among all cancerous cells, a few act as stem cells that reproduce themselves and sustain the cancer, much like normal stem cells normally renew and sustain our organs and tissues. Cancer stems cells have been found in many types of tumors, including leukemia, myeloma, breast, prostate, colon, brain, lung and other cancers.  Cancer cells that are not stem cells can initiate cancer, but they cannot metastasize. CSCs have the ability to regenerate the primary tumor, and to move to other sites in the body causing metastasis. Unlike early stage primary tumors, metastasis is the primary cause of death in most cancer patients.  

The majority of cancer drugs, while killing the bulk of tumor cells, ultimately fail to work long-term.  Cancer stem cells don’t actively renew themselves through cell division like other cancer cells do, so existing treatments that target cancerous cells (like radiotherapy and chemotherapy) aren’t effective against these cells. What normally occurs is that the treatment selectively kills the less harmful populations of cells, the non-stem cells, increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign and/or less malignant cells which have or develop resistance to the agent, enabling them to come back even stronger with time. According to Dr Tony Jimenez, in each 1 cubic cm of a tumor there are one billion cancer cells, but 99% of those cells are non-stem cells; it is the 1% of the cells that are CSCs that are resistant to treatment, and which are more active and dangerous.  So just because you get an 80% reduction in tumor bulk, you are not targeting the most dangerous of the cells, the cells that are immortal and are strengthened by chemo and radiation–these therapies actually stimulate CSC’s. The reality is that the chemotherapy, even though it can reduce tumor volume, can actually make cancer more malignant.[i] 

As written by Sayer Ji, Founder of www.GreenMedInfo, a study titled,” Vitamin D compounds reduce mammosphere formation and decrease expression of putative stem cell markers in breast cancer,” brings to the forefront the role of breast cancer stem cells (BSCs) in breast tumor formation and their progression towards malignancy and treatment resistance. For many decades it was assumed that cancer results from DNA-damaged cells succumbing to fundamentally chaotic processes ‘going rogue’ and reproducing clonally (making identical copies of one another), without an acknowledgment of the different types of cells that comprise tumors. The most salient difference is between the cancer stem cells (sometimes referred to as ‘mother’ cells) which are capable of theoretically infinite self-renewal and produce all the differentiated ‘daughter’ cells in a tumor colony, which themselves are not capable of living indefinitely. It is actually the existence of the much smaller number of cancer stem cells which causes cancer recurrence, as they are not only resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiation, but their Therefore, any cancer therapy that ignores the cancer stem cell subpopulation in favor of killing the non-tumorigenic daughter cells in order to ‘debulk’ the tumor (i.e. shrink it), will not result in destroying the root of the cancer. To the contrary, it can generate the illusion of ‘remission’ while in fact making the remaining tumor colony far more malignant, setting up the conditions for aggressive recurrence years later.” [ii]

And by the Stanford School of Medicine, Ludwig Center….

The idea that cancer is primarily driven by a smaller population of stem cells has important implications.  For instance, many new anti-cancer therapies are evaluated based on their ability to shrink tumors, but if the therapies are not killing the cancer stem cells, the tumor will soon grow back (often with a vexing resistance to the previously used therapy). Another important implication is that it is the cancer stem cells that give rise to metastases and can also act as a reservoir of cancer cells that may cause a relapse after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy has eliminated all observable signs of a cancer.  [iii]

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells

raspberrySo to prevent relapse and metastases, it’s essential that we address the stem cells.   According to Dr Tony Jimenez, Director of Hope4Cancer, while our powerful immune system (if fully functioning) is often able to seek and eliminate cancer cells, CSCs have a protein surrounding them that hides these cells from our immune system.  However, natural compounds such as the ellagic acid in red and black raspberries help de-cloak the cancer stem cells of the protein they that hides them from our immune system[iv] (you want the ellagitannins from berries, not the supplement ellagic acid). These berries have many anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Raspberry phytonutrients help lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and encourage apoptosis. Black raspberries are  noted for their extremely high ORAC value and provide a good source of Vitamin A, and provide an excellent source of the flavonoid rutin – a phenolic compound which metabolizes into quercetin. Both red and black raspberries inhibit the growth of oral, breast, colon, and prostate tumor cell lines. While eating a cup of freshly  picked raspberries or black raspberries might not be feasible, there are pure-food supplements like Freeze Dried Black Raspberry Powder and Raspex Raspberry Seed Powder / One Pound Jar) that are easy to find and delicious as well.

black rasp

Other natural substances that are highly effective against CSCs are Curcumin (turmeric)[v], sulforaphane[vi] (broccoli sprouts are especially good), quercetin (apples, onions, red grapes and red wine), green tea, resveratrol, genistein (fermented soy) and black pepper.  Eat these foods daily and in substantial amounts to get the most benefit; take them together for the power of synergy. You can also take the drug Metformin, which is an inexpensive off-label drug that has many anticancer properties, including targeting cancer stem cells (see multiple references below, but also consider berberine). And don’t forget to get some sun! As mentioned in the Vitamin D study above, vitamin D may target cancer stem cells as well. Of note is that these substances which target stem cells do so without harming healthy cells and which have other anti-cancer properties. Conventional treatments poison both the unhealthy and healthy cells, often resulting in the patient dying from the treatment, not actually the disease.

Substances Known to Target Cancer Stem Cells:

  • Curcumin
  • Broccoli
  • Black cumin seed
  • Red and black raspberries and to a lesser extent, strawberries
  • Apples, onions and red wine
  • Green tea
  • Resveratrol
  • Pterostilbene (found in organic blueberries and grapes)
  • Ginger
  • Myrrh
  • Fermented Soy
  • Olive oil
  • Licorice root
  • Black pepper
  • Turkey Tail mushroom
  • Metformin (or in a more natural form, berberine)
  • Propolis
  • Aswaganda
  • Aspirin (with caution)
  • Sunshine (vitamin D3)

Are targeting cancer stem cells the cure for cancer? No, of course not. But they are an important piece of the puzzle. You still want to implement a protocol that meets your needs and change the overall cancer environment:

  • Build the immune system via stress reduction,moderate exercise and yes, daily hugs
  • Exercise daily
  • Detox your liver and your life (toss out toxic cleaning and personal care products)
  • Maximize nutrition with whole foods and targeted supplements
  • Get daily sunlight and consider Vitamin D3 supplementation along with K2 and A 
  • Eliminate processed, refined foods which contain refined sugars and carbohydrates and processed Omega 6’s; Eliminate hydrogenated fats
  • Drink water free of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals
  • Eat whole foods that are not genetically modified and use organic foods as much as possible
  • Avoid goods containing artificial sweeteners, preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals
  • Reduce stress and identify and heal the ‘emotional terrain’ which may be contributing to your dis-ease

[ii] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/sunlight-holds-key-killing-breast-cancer-3

[iii] http://ludwigcenter.stanford.edu/overview/theory.html

[v] http://www.anticancerbook.com/post/Turmeric-and-black-pepper-fight-cancer-stem-cells.html ; Kakarala, M., et al., Targeting breast stem cells with the cancer preventive compounds curcumin and piperine. Breast Cancer Research & Treatment, 2009

[vi] http://nutritionfacts.org/video/broccoli-versus-breast-cancer-stem-cells/http://nutritionfacts.org/video/sulforaphane-from-broccoli-to-breast/

[vii] http://jonbarron.org/article/truth-about-ellagic-acid-and-red-raspberries#.VKHrV14AGA

Resources and Further Information:

See also: What Your Oncologist Neglected to Tell You About Conventional Cancer Treatment

View:Cancer Stem Cells and Progression of Disease: What You Need to Know Now with Guest Dr Michael Schachter




Ginger and Cancer Stem Cells










~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.com/about/

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Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link, and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

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