Can Eating Broccoli Prevent Breast Cancer?

It’s a question I found myself asking after reading that a diet rich in the natural plant compound phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) has been shown to prevent the development of mammary tumors in mice.  PEITC is a compound found in watercress and in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

The researchers found that administering PEITC for 29 weeks was linked with a 56.3% reduction in mammary carcinoma lesions greater than 2mm. “Although PEITC administration does not confer complete protection against mammary carcinogenesis, mice placed on the PEITC-supplemented diet, compared with mice placed on the control diet, clearly exhibited suppression of carcinoma progression,” the authors write. PEITC was also well-tolerated.

Although studies on PEITC in mice are quite promising, proving that PEITC works in humans is not so easy.  Dietary studies in humans are exceedingly difficult to perform, and studies of PEITC-rich foods and cancer rates have had mixed results to date. Still, we do know that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have lower rates of certain cancers, as well as less heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Those are enough reasons to feel good about eating your broccoli.  Here’s my new favorite recipe for eating mine.


Although there are many wonderful roast broccoli recipes out there (see links below), the simplicity of this preparation makes this it a versatile accompaniment to almost any meal.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 head broccoli
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the broccoli into large florets. Cut off the end of the stalk and discard, then slice the remaining center stalk into 1/8 inch thick rounds. Spread the broccoli out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 15 mins or so, till just tender and the edges are nicely browned, stopping halfway through to turn the broccoli and re-brush as needed with olive oil.

NCI info on cruciferous vegetables and Cancer

More great broccoli recipes

2 Responses to Can Eating Broccoli Prevent Breast Cancer?

  1. I was JUST about to roast up some cauliflower the same way, but now I’ll grab my broc all lonely in the crisper and roast it up, too! Thanks TBTAM! (Wish you were here to share it with.)

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