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Sep 12, 2012 2:20 PM by Tania Shofron

UA researching broccoli intake as part of breast cancer treatment

TUCSON - University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers are continuing to seek participants for a study designed to determine if a compound found in broccoli can enhance the health-promoting effects of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen in women at risk of developing breast cancer or those previously treated for early-stage breast cancer.

Since receiving a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2011, UACC researcher Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, and her team have recruited about 50 women who are taking Tamoxifen for the DIME study. Enrollment will continue through December 2013 with a goal of 170 participants.

Tamoxifen is an accepted treatment for breast cancer. Dr. Thomson, a professor of Health Promotion Sciences in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, notes that data from diet studies of people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables - cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and broccoli - suggest that intake may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, bladder and possibly prostate.

"We have previously shown that women taking Tamoxifen who eat more vegetables may decrease cancer recurrence risk. This study will test the potential health-promoting effects using one isolated bioactive compound found in cruciferous vegetables, diindolylmethane (DIME), and compare it to a placebo intervention in favorably changing hormone levels and breast characteristics like breast density," Dr. Thomson says.

Alison Stopeck, MD, a co-investigator in the study and the director of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program at the UA Cancer Center, sees this research as a unique opportunity to determine the potential of non-invasive imaging to be a reliable biomarker for breast cancer risk.

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