A report entitled “Cancer Statistics 2007” published in the January/February 2007 issue of the American Cancer Society journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians offered the encouraging news of a decline in the number of yearly cancer deaths occurring in the United States, with 3,014 fewer cancer deaths reported in 2004 than in 2003. The greatest reduction occurred in deaths from colorectal cancer. The decrease is much larger than the decline of 369 deaths reported for 2003, which was the first decline in the number of cancer deaths recorded since the data has been compiled. While cancer death rates have decreased since 1991, it was not until 2003 that the reduction was great enough to overtake the increased cancer deaths due to aging and population growth. The bad news is that while the incidence of cancer in men appears to have stabilized, there was a 0.3 percent continuing increase of the incidence in women between 1995 and 2003. Additionally, gains in cancer survival among Caucasians have not been matched by African Americans.
Cancer still remains the leading cause of death in adult Americans younger than 85 years of age. Based on the latest trends, 1,444,920 men and women will develop cancer and 559,650 are projected to die from the disease this year. While the method used in previous reports to predict cancer incidence in the coming year utilized data from cancer registries covering 10 percent of the U.S. population, in 2007 the ACS used data from cancer registries for approximately 86 percent of the population, making the latest methodology much more accurate.
“This second consecutive drop in the number of actual cancer deaths, much steeper than the first, shows last year’s historic drop was no fluke,” stated American Cancer Society CEO John R. Seffrin, PhD. “Everyone involved in the fight against cancer should be proud of this remarkable achievement. The hard work towards preventing cancer, catching it early, and making treatment more effective is paying dramatic, lifesaving dividends.”
The American Cancer Society believes that 30% of all cancer is due to inadequate consumption of vegetables and fruits. About 91% of Americans fail to achieve target recommendations, that is, 5 vegetable servings a day or 2-3 pounds a week. Asians who consume from 15-20 servings of fruits and vegetables a day have a much lower incidence of some cancers.
Vegetables of the cruciferous family isolate the anticarcinogenic constituents of Brassica plants. Glucosinolates (appearing in cruciferous vegetables) can inhibit, retard, or even reverse experimental multistage carcinogenesis (Fimognari et al. 2002). As enzymatic processes hydrolyze glucosinolates, isothiocyanates are released, including sulphoraphane. Sulphoraphane wields a strong arm against cancer, promoting apoptosis, inducing Phase II detoxification enzymes, increasing p53 and participating in the regulatory mechanisms of the cell's growth cycle. Necrosis (localized death of diseased tissues) is typically observed after prolonged exposure to elevated doses of sulphoraphane.
For the past several years, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have urged the inclusion of broccoli sprouts in the diet. According to Dr. Paul Talalay, broccoli sprouts have 20-50 times more anticancer sulphoraphanes than grown vegetables (Fahey et al. 1997). Eating a few tablespoons of sprouts daily can supply the same amount of chemoprotection as 1-2 pounds of broccoli eaten weekly (Talalay 1997).
Scientists have identified specific extracts from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.) that modulate hormones in a way to help maintain healthy cell division. For instance, animal studies have shown that the cruciferous vegetable extract indole-3-carbinol (I3C) modulates estrogen hormones by favorably changing the ratio of protective 2-hydroxyestrone versus the damaging 16-hydroxyestrone. Indole-3-carbinol also induces phase I and II detoxifying enzymes that can help neutralize estrogen metabolites and xenobiotic estrogen-like environmental chemicals. Human studies support the beneficial role of I3C in positively altering estrogen metabolism. Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, has been shown in animal studies to help maintain normal levels of a potentially damaging estrogen called 4-hydroxyestrone.
The glucosinolates are major constituents of cruciferous vegetables that have been shown to promote normal apoptosis and induce the expression of the beneficial p53 gene via an estrogen-independent action.
Watercress contains isothiocyanates, but in a broader spectrum than does broccoli. The primary isothiocyanate precursor (PEiTC) in watercress functions via four specific mechanisms to maintain healthy cell division. Extracts from rosemary enhance liver metabolism of estradiol and estrone, inhibits the formation of DNA adducts,8 and have been shown to impede estrogen-induced growth promotion in certain tissues.