Skin cancer protection

Anti-aging and protection of skin from UV radiation by compounds found in broccoli sprouts.

Ultra violet radiation in sunlight deteriorates and ages many of the surfaces it falls on, including human skin.

The list of pathological events that UV radiation triggers in human skin includes

· cellular and DNA damage, ie mutations

· inflammation (sunburn)

· a decrease in immune response.

Each year in the USA alone 1 million people report skin cancer.

This incidence is increasing because of

· a depletion of the ozone layer

· longer life-spans

· increased exposure to solar radiation.

UV radiation is the principal etioliogical factor responsible for skin cancer, according to researchers at John Hopkins University.

Nearly all chemical reactions in biological systems are catalysed (or in other words a reaction is produced) by specific molecules called enzymes and all known enzymes are proteins.

Proteins are built from molecules called amino acids that are the basic building blocks in a unique sequence specified by the genes of that cell.

The word anti-oxidant ( the good guys) is used to describe a molecule eg a vitamin,which amongst other things,cancels out another molecule ,an oxidant (the bad guys).

In our bodies,a mechanism has evolved where a defensive network of cell protective (phase 2) proteins combat oxidants and other entities with affinity for electrons, at a cellular level.

The John Hopkins work was able to induce an increase in the Phase 2 enzyme activity of the bodies natural defence system so as to deliver long lasting protection against a carcinogen (UV radiation) in humans.

How did they do this?

Since the 1992 discovery of a compound in Broccoli (one of the plants in the Brassica genus of the mustard family Brassicaceae) called Sulforaphane, there has been an explosion in research regarding the properties of this remarkable plant molecule.

This compound is termed an isothiocyanate by plant biochemists to describe its 3 D structure.

This research established that the highest concentration of Sulforaphane was to be found in three day old broccoli sprouts

The John Hopkins research used a topical application of 3-day old broccoli sprout extracts on the skin of mice and humans in their study.

The results were

· an increase in the the Phase 2 enzyme activity in mouse and human skin

· protected against against the UV radiation induced inflammation and redness in mice

· reduced susceptibility to redness from UV radiation in humans.

In the human subjects,the mean reduction in skin redness(sunburn) across six doses of UV radiation was 37.7%.

For further information see the research paper “Sulforaphane mobilises cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV radiation.”by P Talalay et al from John Hopkins University.