A study presented at the 224th national meeting of the American Chemical Society shows that a compound developed from a naturally occurring agent found in broccoli can successfully help women fight off breast cancer. Animal tests of the compound have been encouraging, said the researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago. If human tests, which are planned, also show that the compound is an effective anticancer agent, it may be possible to develop it into a once-a-day pill or vitamin. If all goes well, the product could hit the consumer market in as little as seven to 10 years.
The synthetic compound, called Oxomate, works by boosting the body's production of phase II enzymes, antioxidants that help remove cancer-causing toxins from the body, thereby reducing cancer risk. In tests on female rats, those fed Oxomate after being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals had up to a 50% reduction in the number of breast tumors compared with rats that did not receive the compound.
Tamoxifen is the only drug currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for breast cancer prevention in high-risk women. It works by reducing the flow of estrogen to breast tumor cells that use the hormone to reproduce. Oxomate has been shown to work on both estrogen-dependent and non-estrogen-dependent tumors.
If human tests show that Oxomate is effective in reducing breast cancer risk, researchers plan to expand testing to include several other types of cancers.