Watercress Halts Cancer and DNA Damage
Watercress is a delicious food. It can be added fresh to salads or steamed up with other vegetables.
But did you know that watercress can halt and reduce DNA damage? And even stop cancer growth?
The evidence is in – watercress helps halts cancer growth
Research from Britain’s Edinburgh Napier University found that watercress reduces DNA damage and oxidative stress. This included stress induced by exhaustive exercise. The connection with cancer is that the watercress halted the DNA damage that precedes cancer.
The researchers studied ten healthy young men (average age 23) for four months. The men were tested before and after the study, and on a daily basis, before and after exhausting aerobic exercise. During one eight-week period, the subjects took 85 grams of watercress supplements daily. They took the supplements two hours before exercise. During the other eight-week period, they worked out without the supplements.
When given the watercress supplement, the men showed a significant reduction in reactive oxygen species levels, and reduced DNA damage. Blood samples also revealed that levels of lipid peroxidation – the major cause for artery disease – were also significantly lower when taking the watercress.
Strenuous exercise typically produces DNA damage, which a the body will hopefully repair. The ability of watercress to reduce DNA damage confirms earlier research showing that watercress reduces mutation and cancer growth.
The researchers commented on this aspect of the study:
“The study demonstrates that exhaustive aerobic exercise may cause DNA damage and lipid peroxidation; however, these perturbations are attenuated by either short- or long-term watercress supplementation, possibly due to the higher concentration lipid-soluble antioxidants following watercress ingestion.”
Other research confirms the watercress is anticancer
Previous research has found that watercress contains a unique constituent called phenethyl isothiocyanate or PEITC. Georgetown University researchers established in 2011 that isothiocyanate inhibited the growth of cervical cancer and breast cancer cells.
And a 2014 study from China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Guiyang Medical College found that PEITC halted the growth of leukemia cancer cells.
Another 2014 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that isothiocyanate and sulforaphane – also present in watercress as well as brocolli and other cruciferous vegetables – can halt the growth of prostate cancer.
Other anticancer agents in watercress
Besides isothiocyanate and sulphorophane, watercress contains a host of antioxidant nutrients, including xanthophyll, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol (two forms of vitamin E), each of which have been shown to slow free radical formation in the body. As other studies have shown, this in turn can reduce the rate of DNA damage and cancer formation in the body.
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