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01/05/2010 - Articles

Watercress might prevent breast cancer

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Watercress contains a number of compounds that have anti-cancer activity. But most research on watercress has been done on cancer cells in test tubes. We don’t really know what the impact of watercress in the human diet is. In a new study, Professor Graham Packham of the University of Southampton is having breast cancer survivors eat 80 g of watercress and then give blood samples to see if anti-cancer pathways are then activated.

Already Packham’s team has shed light on how PEITC, the active anti-cancer ingredient in watercress, exerts its effect. It stops the accumulation of a key protein in cancer cells which otherwise drives the formation of a new blood supply to nourish the growing tumor. In previous work, researchers at the University of Ulster found that watercress can increase the ability of cells to reduce DNA damage which could otherwise trigger tumor formation.  Daily watercress intake significantly reduces DNA damage in blood cells, they learned. The results of Packham’s study are due in March 2010 and may tell us more about why it’s good to eat watercress. In the meantime, remember that watercress contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals. Serving for serving, it has more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.



Gill C et al Watercress supplementation in diet reduces lymphocyte DNA damage and alters blood antioxidant status in healthy volunteers American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007;85:504-510


Created on: 01/05/2010
Reviewed on: 01/05/2010

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