We’ve always thought of broccoli as a vegetable with secret powers. And it turns out that repelling George H.W. Bush was just the start of that list. New research indicates that broccoli could help protect us from skin cancer, if we smear it all over ourselves. Inhabitat:
The key, according to researcher Sally Dickinson, lies in sulforaphane, a naturally occurring compound in broccoli with established chemopreventive properties. Dickinson isn’t asking her patients to chow down on the cruciferous veggie, which has previously demonstrated risk-reduction properties for various forms of cancer, as a way to unlock its skin-protecting nutrients, however. Rather, she wants them to apply small doses of sulforaphane to their skin like they would sunscreen.
Is it safe to smear extract-of-broccoli all over your skin? Previous studies say yes. Will it actually do anything? Actually, they haven’t totally figured that out yet.
Dickinson and her colleagues are about to start a pilot study to “test a topical broccoli-sprout solution on the skin of a group of patients to ascertain the compound’s efficacy under solar simulated light.” A separate Johns Hopkins study already found that broccoli sprout solution can help minimize the effects of UVB rays. This new study is going to test a wider spectrum of light. Also, the first one only used mice.
Important to note here: Don’t actually just buy broccoli, smash it all over your skin, and then go out into the midday sun. Arizona Public Media reports:
But Dickinson advises people to avoid applying broccoli, or broccoli sprouts, directly to their skin. The cells need to be crushed to activate the compound, she said. Also, because studies are ongoing, dosage and application specifics have not yet been determined.
Maybe if you purée it first? If it doesn’t work, you’re already halfway to broccoli-cheese soup.
Get Grist in your inbox