Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Broccoli Compound Found to Protect Against Lung Disease

A chemical that naturally occurs in broccoli may help protect the lungs against the damage that leads to lung disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The researchers studied the lung cells of 39 humans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition in which the airways narrow and it becomes chronically difficult to breathe. They compared these to tissue samples from patients without COPD, which is particularly common among tobacco smokers. The cells of lungs suffering from COPD were found to be deficient in a protein produced by a gene called NFR2, which regulates a variety of processes that clear out toxins and pollutants from the lungs. Perhaps for this reason, the lungs also had significantly lower levels of antioxidants and the proteins that prevent antioxidants from degrading. The more severe the COPD, the lower the levels of antioxidants and all these proteins. Previous research in mice has shown that shutting off the NFR2 gene in mice leads to the development of early onset severe emphysema, a common symptom of COPD. In the current study, however, the researchers found that the NFR2 gene in the COPD-afflicted lungs was working fine, suggesting that the NFR2 protein was simply being degraded rapidly after production. When they added the broccoli compound sulforapane to these cells, they found that all NFR2-mediated antioxidant lung defenses were returned to normal. This suggests that sulforapane and other strategies for restoring NFR2 activity may eventually be used as COPD treatments. "Controlled restoration of NRF2 antioxidant defenses together with existing therapies, such as smoking cessation and use of anti-inflammatory agents, may greatly help in attenuating COPD progression as well as in preventing disease exacerbations," the researchers wrote. Other studies have suggested that sulforapane can help protect blood vessels from the damage caused by diabetes, and that a diet high in vegetables from the same family as broccoli (brassica, or cruciferous) can protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Source - www.naturalnews.com

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