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The Nutrition InvestigatorThe health and nutrition blog by Dr. Roc Ordman.

Fall 18 Linus Pauling Newsletter Notes

by Roc (click here for full post)

Download and read the entire LPI newsletter here.

If you only take away one message from this article, it would be this: Eat more broccoli. Please eat more broccoli, broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, or any other cruciferous vegetable that appeals to you.

It is low in calories, packed with fiber and a variety of micronutrients, and is a part of the cruciferous vegetable family. However, there is more to broccoli than this: Sulforaphane  can prevent and suppress cancer in animal models. Sulforaphane is toxic to prostate cancer cells in culture, but non-toxic in normal (non-cancerous) prostate cells. Using RNA sequencing, we tested the

hypothesis that sulforaphane changes the expression of cancer-associated lnc (long non-coding) RNAs in human prostate cancer cells. The treatment altered the expression of about 100 different lncRNAs and even normalized the expression of some lncRNAs that were dysregulated in prostate cancer. Another lncRNA, NMRAL2P, regulates the expression of a gene called NQO1, which participates in the protection of cells against oxidative stress. By manipulating NMRAL2P levels, we found evidence that sulforaphane has cancer suppressive properties in colon cancer cells in part through NMRAL2P.


Cruciferous vegetables should have only light cooking (i.e., steaming for no more than 5 minutes) to preserve the enzyme activity which helps them prevent cancer.

Nutrients and phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli synergistically contribute to health

promotion. Broccoli is healthful for many reasons: It is a good source of vitamins (like folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K), minerals (magnesium and potassium), and dietary fiber. Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli also contains glucosinolates that can form sulforaphane – an isothiocyanate that may have cancer-fighting properties – and many other bioactive compounds. Glucosinolate compounds are the source of the bitter taste found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate, can be converted to sulforaphane. This only happens when the vegetable is chewed

or chopped, because an enzyme released from the plant is necessary for the process. Cooking the vegetables inactivates the enzyme needed for this conversion, but light cooking (i.e., steaming for no more than 5 minutes) will preserve some of the enzyme activity.


Rapamycin became a compound of interest in aging research because it can mimic the effects of dietary restriction, which in some animals has been proven to extend their lifespan. It also has a clear role in combating cellular senescence in animals. “Increases in cellular senescence are associated with aging. The associated inflammation can set the stage for a wide variety of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disease, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s,”  RAP boosts the activity of Nrf2, a master regulator protein that can induce the expression of up to 200 genes responsible for cell repair, detoxification of carcinogens, protein and lipid metabolism, and antioxidant protection. The culmination of these Nrf2-driven processes reduce levels of senescence-associated secretory phenotype, or SASP. in laboratory models. SASP can secrete a number of pro-inflammatory molecules that alter the proper function of healthy, adjacent cells. However, at present the use of rapamycin to help prevent human disease is limited due to the side effects, like insulin resistance, that can occur.

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