For the new study, mice predisposed to oral cancer were given sulforaphane for several months and the team found that it significantly reduced the incidence and number of tumours.The researchers then treated 10 healthy human volunteers with fruit juice mixed with sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract.The volunteers had no ill-effects from the extract and protective changes were detectable in the lining of their mouths, meaning it was absorbed and directed to at-risk tissue.

The researchers now plan to conduct a clinical trial that will recruit 40 volunteers, who have been curatively treated for head and neck cancer.The participants will regularly take capsules containing broccoli seed powder to determine if they can tolerate the regimen and whether it has enough of an impact on their oral lining to prevent cancer.

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