Cabbages and cancer prevention: will your vegetables keep the Big C at bay?

In an optimistic new study, researchers at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered evidence that cabbages prevent cancer. Leading the team of researchers is Dr. Gitta Stockinger, who is analyzing how indole-3-carbinol (a chemical found in cabbages and similar vegetables) influences cell division in your gut wall.

Do cabbages prevent cancer?

Before we start looking into whether cabbages prevent cancer, it’s worth understanding your gut wall and the factors that increase your risk. Like your skin, your gut wall regenerates over a period of 3 to 5 days. Earlier in life, your body can moderate this regeneration so that it unfolds in a calm and smooth manner. As you age, your gut’s cells still regenerate quickly. However, they also become disorganized, making cancer more likely.

Aside from age, the medical world has long accepted that diet and lifestyle increase your risk of colon cancer. For example, heavy drinkers are at higher risk of cancer throughout their GI tract. Some people inherit autoimmune diseases, such as ulcerative colitis. Eating a poor diet subjects your colon to serious abuse, increasing the chances of your cells dividing poorly as you age.

According to Dr. Gitta Stockinger and her team, indole-3-carbinol has a positive effect on your gut’s stem cells. When gut stem cells come into contact with the chemical they’re more likely to resume a sensible division pattern. Additionally, cabbages prevent cancer by reducing inflammation in the gut. With less information comes less cellular harm, which lowers your cancer risk further.

What else can you do to prevent colon cancer?

As you may have guessed, although there’s evidence suggesting cabbages prevent cancer, it’s in no way a miracle cure. Let’s say you eat a leaf of cabbage a day, but your lifestyle otherwise sucks. If you’re smoking, binge drinking, making several visits to your local drive-thru, and not exercising, your risk of colon cancer is still pretty high. Additionally, Stockinger has highlighted that you can’t cook cabbages, broccoli, and the other preventative vegetables until they’re soggy. Only an al-dente approach to cooking your veg will deliver the benefits she’s discussed.

If you’re happy to incorporate delicately cooked cabbage into your diet, you may want to take the following steps to lower your colon cancer risk further:

  • Try eating a diet that goes easy on your bowels. Carry on consuming meat, but make sure you feast on lots of fiber too.
  • Add a dose of exercise to your daily routine to lower your BMI and aid your gut in pushing its contents to their end destination.
  • Keep a check on your weight in general. Being obese increases your risk of colon cancer by around 30%.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake, as your gut’s cells don’t enjoy its caustic nature.

Finally, if you’re eligible for a colon cancer screening program make sure you take part. As with any other type of carcinoma, catching cellular changes at the earliest possible stage optimizes your chances of recovery.

Now that you know cabbages prevent cancer, you may want to give some thought to your overall risk profile. If you’re unsure as to where you stand when it comes to colon carcinomas, check in with your family physician for an update.


About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.