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Watercress May Suppress
Development of Breast Cancer


Important New Research on How Phytochemicals
And Nutritive Plant Extracts
are Beneficial for
Cancer Risk Reduction


A compound found in watercress may suppress
breast cancer development by stopping the function
of a protein important in tumor development, according
to new research. Phenylethyl Isothiocyanate, a
compound found in watercress and other vegetables
including broccoli and cabbage, may block key
processes in cancer development by interfering with
and ‘turning off’ the function of a protein called Hypoxia
Inducible Factor (HIF), according to findings published
in the British Journal of Nutrition.

“The research takes an important step towards
understanding the potential health benefits of this crop,
since it shows that eating watercress may interfere with
a pathway that has already been tightly linked to cancer
development,” said research scientists from the University
of Southampton. The study was supported by the
Watercress Alliance.

Cancer Reduction Process
As tumors develop they need more blood, and begin to
stimulate surrounding tissues to grow new blood vessels.
It is suggested that phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC
blocks the development of blood vessels to cancer cells
by reducing the activity of HIF, known as an important
positive regulator of blood vessel development.

PEITC has also been shown to induce apoptosis (cell
death) in certain cancer cells, and, in some cases, even
in cells that are resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs.

Dietary PEITC has been shown to decrease the translation
regulator 4E binding protein-1 (4E-BP1) a protein linked to
reducing cancer cell survival and decreased activity of the
transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF).

The researchers observed that  watercress extracts
inhibited cancer cell growth and HIF activity.

Levels of blood plasma PEITC in samples also showed
raised levels following the ingestion of watercress.

The authors reported an analysis of 4E-BP1 in blood cells
from participants showed significantly reduced 4E-BP1
phosphorylation up to eight hours after eating the watercress,
noting that the function of HIF was altered noticeably.

The authors noted their study offers a “new insight into
the potential anti-cancer effects of watercress.”

“Although further investigations are required to confirm
these findings, this pilot study suggests that dietary intake
of watercress may be sufficient to modulate this potential
anti-cancer pathway,” wrote the researchers.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
(Published online)
“In vivo modulation of 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1)
phosphorylation by watercress: a pilot study”