We’ve all been told that broccoli is good for us ever since we were children, but experts have just found that broccoli is even more beneficial to our health than anyone could have imagined, as it includes an ingredient that is being called the “Achilles heal” of cancer.

A new study just found that broccoli contains a small but powerful molecule that deactivates the gene known as WWP1, which causes cancerous tumor growth. The study was headed by Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi, director of the Cancer Centre and Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who said that this finding could be a game changer when it comes to finding a cure for cancer.

“The study’s really exciting,” he said. “I’ve been bombarded by journalists — because of the broccoli connection, let’s be honest. Forget what you think about the science, the fact that [we found] something that your grandma would say [is] good for you, it’s appealing.”

Pandolfi added that his team thinks that the gene called PTEN could cause irregularities and defects in WWP1. When they tested their theory on cancer-prone mice and human cells, they found that WWP1 produces an enzyme that overpowers the tumor-suppressive activity of PTEN. They also concluded that there is a molecule found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), whichW can reawaken the cancer-fighting properties of PTEN.

While another author of the study said that a person would have to eat six pounds of uncooked Brussel sprouts, which are also cruciferous, every day in order to reap their anti-cancer benefits, Pandolfi added that this could be the key to unlocking “one of the most important tumor suppressors in the history of cancer genetics.”

“This pathway emerges not only as a regulator for tumor growth control, but also as an Achilles’ heel we can target with therapeutic options,” said Pandolfi. “These findings pave the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment.”

Pandolfi and his team are now planning to keep going with their research to see if they could find a more practical way to provide I3C to cancer patients and trigger tumor-suppressing properties in PTEN.

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