The Italian Almanac
Italian Science - August16
The Woad plant, which the Celts used to use as a blue war paint dye, also contains compounds which could help fight breast cancer, say researchers from Bologna University, Italy. The plant, which comes from the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, is rich in glucobrassicin. Previous studies' findings have suggested that if you eat vegetables rich in glucobrassicin you could be protecting yourself against cancer. The problem with testing glucobrassicin itself has been getting enough of it.
The scientists found that if you damage the leaves of the Woad plant its defence mechanism releases glucobrassicin. Glucobrassicin kills some pests which feed on plants. The compound has another useful property, it is especially effective as an anti-tumour agent for patients with breast cancer. The scientists believe that glucobrassicin gets rid of compounds that cause cancer, as well as derivatives of oestrogen.
Dr Stefania Galletti, team leader, said in an interview with the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture “The availability of glucobrassicin in good amounts and at low cost could finally permit studies to be performed in order to clarify the anti-cancer role of glucobrassicin-rich vegetables, like broccoli, in the human diet.”
The researchers believe that this chemical, and others like it, could eventually play an important role in cancer prevention and treatment.