Eating watercress every day could help to prevent breast cancer, researchers have found.
The ‘super food’ can help to ‘turn off’ a signal in the body and thereby help starve the tumour of essential blood and oxygen, according to experts at the University of Southampton.
The found that volunteers who ate 80 grams of watercress a day, equivalent to a cereal bowl sized helping, had elevated levels of cancer-fighting molecules in their blood within hours of eating the salad leaves.
The research found that the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), which gives the salad leaf a peppery taste, is able to interfere with the function of a protein that plays a critical role in cancer development.
As tumours develop they rapidly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development isn’t possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells.
To get past this roadblock, the cancer cells send out signals which cause the surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumour which then supply oxygen and nutrients.
The protein Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) is at the heart of this process of inducing new blood vessel growth. However, PEITC, of which watercress is the richest natural source, was shown in laboratory tests to have the ability to block the function of HIF.
The research, which was funded by the Watercress Alliance, provides new hope to the 45,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Sourced from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health