(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) The Effectiveness of Chemical Compounds in Brassica Vegetables in the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer Introduction It is believed that improper diet and many other factors related to it account for nearly 30-40% of cases of cancers (Kumar & Andy, 2011)…
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The chemical compounds in vegetables known to treat and prevent cancer include phytochemicals, isoprenoids and pigments (Govind & Madhuri, 2011). Vegetable pigments in particular – flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins – are the main chemical components of Brassica vegetables, the group of vegetables known to significantly prevent the occurrence of one of the deadliest cancers in the body – colorectal cancer (Cartea et al. 251). In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, after lung cancer and preceding breast cancer (“Colorectal Cancer,” 2011). The antioxidant properties of various chemicals called flavonoids in Brassica vegetables prevent colon cancer as well as other forms of cancer, thus there is a need to take a closer look at these chemicals. Chemicals in Brassica Vegetables and their Benefits in Colorectal Cancer Prevention The over 3,500 species of Brassica or cruciferous vegetables include those from the family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae – kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, turnip, oilseed, and mustard (Cartea et al., 2011). These vegetables contain a number of chemicals such as vitamins, fiber, soluble sugars, minerals, carotenoids, glucosinolates, minerals and most of all, phenolic compounds (Cartea et al., 2011). Additionally, folic acid and selenium may also be present (Kumar & Andy, 2011). It is, however, the phenolics that account for the anti-cancer properties of Brassica vegetables (Cartea et al., 2011). There are around 8,000 naturally-occurring phenolic compounds with at least one aromatic ring and one or more hydroxyl groups attached to it (Cartea et al., 2011). Among the most widespread of the phenolics are the flavonoids, which contain 15 carbons with two aromatic rings connected by a three-carbon bridge (Cartea et al., 2011). The flavonoids act as scavengers of free radicals and inhibit hydrolytic and oxidative enzymes (Kumar & Andy, 2011). The free radicals eliminated by flavonoids include hydroxyl radicals, superoxide anion radicals and lipid peroxy radicals (Kumar & Andy, 2011). These radicals rob the body of the oxygen needed to promote a cancer-free internal environment. Moreover, flavonoids are also anti-inflammatory (Kumar & Andy, 2011). Flavonoids reduce the number of immobilized leucocytes that result from injury to the tissues during a disease, which then leads to decrease in total serum complement – a mechanism associated with a reduction in inflammation of the tissue (Nijveldt et al., 2001). The most widespread type of flavonoids are the flavonols and it is this particular subtype that is particularly the anti-cancer components of Brassica vegetables (Cartea, et al., 2011). The most common of the flavonols are quercetin and kaempferol, which are richest in amount in the leaves (Cartea et al., 2011). More specifically, quercetin, which is also found in French bean and red and yellow piyaz, has been known for its anticarcinogenic properties (Govind & Madhuri, 2011). Figure 1. Quercetin (http://www.3dchem.com/molecules.asp?ID=445) Figure 2. Kaempferol (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Kaempferol.png) Among the Brassica vegetables, it is red cabbage that has the highest antioxidant content and this is closely followed by green cabbage, mustard
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