Growing up, your parents probably told you that you couldn't leave the table until you finished the few stems of broccoli you'd pushed to the edge of your plate. It might have been more likely that you'd venture over to that side of the plate had it been prepared with a copious amount of garlic.
Well, a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry says that that might have been a good strategy — not because it would have been tastier — but because a compound found in both broccoli and garlic has been proven to boost your immune system, which in turn, could lead to better cancer treatments.
In a press release, Professor Søren Skov, professor of Veterinary Disease Biology at the University of Copenhagen explains:
You can say that the stimulating molecules over-activate the immune system and cause it to collapse, and we are, of course, interested in blocking this mechanism. We have now shown that certain selenium compounds, which are naturally found in, e.g., garlic and broccoli, effectively block the special immunostimulatory molecule that plays a serious role for aggressive cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer and certain types of leukemia.
In other words, certain types of cancer weaken the body by over-activating the immune system. Selenium, the compound found in broccoli and garlic, reverses this effect on the immune system and could potentially improve the treatment of these cancers.
In this study, the researchers are focusing on the so-called NGK2D ligands, because it assumes liquid form — precisely the molecular dissolution that causes major issues once the cancer takes control. Once identified in the bloodstream, this molecule is used as a marker of grave illness: "Molecules are found both on the surface of the cancer cells and dissolved in the blood of the affected person. We are now able to show that selenium compounds appear to have a very beneficial effect when it comes to neutralising the special variant of the NGK2D ligand — both in soluble form and when the molecule is placed on the cell surface," says Professor Søren Skov.
Of course, more research needs to be done to find ways to slow down this immune system over-stimulation, but we're on the right track. The new results are certainly a step (albeit a small one) towards better, more natural cancer drugs with fewer adverse effects.
Garlic breath seems like a small price to pay in order to improve your body's chances of fighting off cancer. Look at it this way: In just one bite, you could boost your immune system and fend off vampires simultaneously.
Photo Credit: Stocksy