Hope everyone doesn’t have a Super Bowl hangover!
I still can’t get over the fact that our beloved Green Bay Packers weren’t playing, so Pattie and I didn’t have any “skin in the game.”
Sat back, had a Wisconsin brat or two and enjoyed the commercials.
I’m guessing bratwurst isn’t in Danny’s nutritional anti-myeloma top ten! So let’s find out what is…
6. Diet and Multiple Myeloma (Part Six): Radishes, Broccoli and Leave it to Beaver
You’ll note in just about every statistical study of myeloma and diet that one looks at finds that consumption of cruciferous vegetables comes up as a positive thing.
And it turns out there are strong reasons for that. A new study shows that this class of vegetables have very potent anti-myeloma activity due to their food chemistry. Take a look at this very intriguing research from Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School:
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in folate and chlorophyll like other green vegetables. However, one of the unique things about cruciferous vegetables is they are rich in glucosinolates such as sulforaphane and isothiocyanates (ITCs) compounds that give them their spicy and pungent aromas.
“We observed that sulforaphane and phenylethyl isothiocyanate have activity against myeloma cell lines and patients‘ myeloma cells both in vitro and in vivo…”
In vitro and in vivo means cruciferous have been measured to act against myeloma both in the lab and in animals—the latter being the test that matters to us most. That increases the likelihood that the findings might extend to people with myeloma too.
What are these veggies exactly?
∙ Brussel sprouts
Potency can vary. Below are data on the concentration of the glucosinolates in food sources from the Linus Pauling Institute:
Table 1. Glucosinolate Content of Selected Cruciferous Vegetables
Total Glucosinolates (mg)
|Brussels sprouts||½ cup (44 g)||
|Garden cress||½ cup (25 g)||
|Mustard greens||½ cup, chopped (28 g)||
|Turnip||½ cup, cubes (65 g)||
|Cabbage, savoy||½ cup, chopped (45 g)||
|Kale||1 cup, chopped (67 g)||
|Watercress||1 cup, chopped (34 g)||
|Kohlrabi||½ cup, chopped (67 g)||
|Cabbage, red||½ cup, chopped (45 g)||
|Broccoli||½ cup, chopped (44 g)||
|Horseradish||1 tablespoon (15 g)||
|Cauliflower||½ cup, chopped (50 g)||
|Bok choy (pak choi)||½ cup, chopped (35 g)||
Table 2. Food Sources of Selected Isothiocyanates and Their Glucosinolate Precursors
|Isothiocyanate||Glucosinolate (precursor)||Food Sources|
|Allyl Isothiocyanate (AITC)||Sinigrin||Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish, mustard, radish|
|Benzyl Isothiocyanate (BITC)||Glucotropaeolin||Cabbage, garden cress, Indian cress|
|Sulforaphane (SFN)||Glucoraphanin||Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage|
There are some even more concentrated ITC foods. For instance, broccoli sprouts are concentrated sources of glucoraphanin, providing 10-100 times more by weight than mature broccoli flowers. Not only that, these compounds appear to have pronounced anti-cancer effects on other cancers—such as those of the lung, prostate and colon. This is doubly important for those of us taking Revlimid over the long-term, given the worry of increased incidence of secondary cancers.
One important addition: the ITCs that are so beneficial in the cruciferous vegetables are reduced by up to two thirds by cooking. Thus, cook these vegetables lightly or better yet find ones which can be eaten raw. Cole slaw, water cress salad, broccoli in a stir fry. For maximum bioavailability, cut vegetables just before eating or cooking.
Relative to myeloma, the landmark Dana Farber/Harvard research concludes:
“Our study shows that isothiocyanates have potent anti-myeloma activities and may enhance the activity of other anti-multiple myeloma agents. These results indicate that isothiocyanates may have therapeutic potential in multiple myeloma and provide the preclinical framework for future clinical studies of isothiocyanates in multiple myeloma.”
Even more, they found that PEITC (for instance in watercress) and sulforaphane (broccoli) added bang in vitro when combined with Velcade or Revlimid:
“When PEITC was combined with bortezomib or lenalidomide, a synergistic effect was observed. All doses of SFN had synergistic effects when combined with conventional drugs, including dexamethasone, doxorubicin and melphalan.”
So, this is a pretty strong endorsement from the myeloma research community and one we can potentially use to help ourselves. I try to have one of the above cruciferous vegetables in some form just about every day. When I travel, I often take along a few whole radishes that are pretty handy when other sources are lacking.
Of course, some of you will find this a challenging list. President George H.W. Bush confessed that he didn’t like broccoli and wouldn’t reconsider. There are lots of people that abhor Brussels Sprouts and turnips are not far behind. Heck, there an entire episode about Brussels Sprouts on “Leave it to Beaver.” How does a guy deal with pesky cruciferous vegetables on the plate?
Yep, you gotta see it:
Sorry Beav; I think a lot of this is over blown. Get over it—particularly if you have myeloma.
See if you can’t learn to appreciate this important family of vegetables and add these medicinal foods to your diet. I find that watercress can be pretty marvelous as a substitute for lettuce on sandwiches. Thinly sliced red cabbage can add nice crunch and color to a dinner salad. And, try mashed turnips, prepared the same way you would mash potatoes. No, it is not the same, but it’s still amazingly good.
Easy does it.
I adapted the refreshing salad recipe below from from Zen chef, Ed Brown’s book Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings (Riverhead, 1997)
Radishes with Watercress and Oranges
1 bunch of radishes
3-4 oz. water cress (or substitute broccoli sprouts, green onions or chives)
Orange marmalade with balsamic vinegar
Cut and peel off the oranges and slice them into rounds or half rounds. Slice the radishes into thin rounds. Wash dry and break up the watercress or sprouts into smaller pieces and toss with the oranges and radishes. Navel oranges are often sweeter than Valencias, but a tablespoon or so of marmalade with a touch of balsamic vinegar and impart sweet and sour flavors to the salad. Mix with the radishes, cress or green onion and oranges before serving.
WOW! For some of us heavy duty vegetable eaters, this column isn’t intimidating–it’s a great reminder to keep doing what we’re doing–and then kick-things-up a nutritional notch or two.
But for many of you, it all must seem overwhelming and–let’s be honest–just not very much fun.
That’s OK. I’m sure that Danny would agree that any positive additions to our diets is a good first step. And we all have room for improvement!
How much does it all help? Who knows? But I like to try and eat this way because it helps me feel better, stay healthier and feel like I have some control over what is probably an uncontrollable situation.
So like often close following similar articles on our nutritional website, HelpWithCancer.org, feel good, keep smiling and eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables! Pat