Writing in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, researchers said that increasing the levels of phase II enzymes seemed a "highly effective" way of protecting against carcinogenesis.
The findings come from research on the development of gastric cancer in laboratory mice.
|Sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli, stimulates protective enzymes.
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences |
During the research at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA, and Tsukuba University, Japan, scientists genetically engineered mice to have low levels of the enzymes.
When exposed to a chemical from cigarette smoke, the genetically altered mice developed many more tumors than normal animals.
In further research the drug oltipraz was tested on the animals because it is known to increase enzyme levels. It successfully halved the number of tumors in normal animals - but failed to protect the animals that could not generate enzymes.
The researchers said a gene called NRf2 appeared to be the key to controlling enzyme levels.
The scientists studied the enzymes after previous research suggested that a chemical found in broccoli, sulforaphane, could stimulate enzyme levels.
Researcher Dr Thomas Kensler, of Johns Hopkins University, said, "Our precise understanding of this system should make it fairly easy to design drugs that can fine-tune it.
"We have evidence that we can increase the system's levels of protection in people and are planning long-term studies that would reveal any lowered incidence of cancer."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com