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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note/Eat Your Greens

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Jessica Penney reports on how broccoli might help prevent stomach ulcers.


CURWOOD: Coming up, rewriting the way government writes rules about pollution. First, this Environmental Health Note from Jessica Penney.


PENNEY: Picky eaters out there may not want to hear this, but there’s now more evidence that broccoli is good for you. A new study shows that a chemical in the vegetable can kill the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers. Despite the popular belief that stress causes ulcers, most stomach ulcers can be traced to an infection of a specific bacterium. This infection also greatly increases chances for stomach cancer. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical School knew that a chemical in broccoli called sulforaphane could boost the body’s production of carcinogen-fighting proteins. So in a laboratory they put the chemical on human cells contaminated with the ulcer causing bacteria and found that the sulfurophane killed the bacteria, even bacteria that were living inside the human cells. That’s important because infections are hard to treat when the bacteria hide out in stomach cells.

The chemical also killed bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics. The researchers now need to find out if the chemical will kill the stomach pests when broccoli is eaten and digested. If it works a broccoli a day could be an easy way to treat bacterial infections for people that have little access to antibiotics. That would be a real help in poor, densely populated areas where the bacteria can be present in up to 70 percent of the population. That’s this week’s Health Update. I’m Jessica Penney.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living On Earth.




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