Potential Of Asian Cruciferous Vegetables For Cancer Chemoprevention

Author

Professor Ong Choon Nam, Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 16, Medical Drive, Singapore 117597.

Proceeding

1st International Conference & Exhibition on Women's Health & Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine

Date

23/8/2005

Keyword

cancer, cancer prevention, fruits and vegetables , traditional herbal medicine, phytochemicals, cruciferous plants

Abstract

Cancer is a leading cause of human death.  Despite the significant advances in diagnosis and treatment, the overall death rates from cancer remains largely unchanged, indicating the importance of cancer prevention. Both epidemiological and experimental studies have provided evidence that consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancers.  However, the mechanisms have not been completely elucidated.  This paper attempts to give an overview on the anti-cancer potential of a large family of vegetables of the Cruciferae. This family comprises many commonly consumed vegetables and several of them are used as traditional herbal medicine.  One unique characteristic of this family of plants is that they contain different types of glucosinolates (GLs) and when hydrolyzed by endogenous plant myrosinase GLs converted to isothiocyanates (ITCs).  ITCs have a wide range of functions such as antibacterial, antifungal and anti-cancer properties. In addition to GLs, many cruciferous plants also posses substantial amounts of indoles (INDs), phenolic compounds and carotenoids which are also known to have anti-cancer potentials.  The measurements of these phytochemicals in various Asian cruciferous vegetables and the mechanisms of how they prevent carcinogenesis are discussed.  Specific attention will be paid on some of the local cruciferous plants that have been shown to have strong chemoprevention property.