Research in Focus
Study Funded by Komen Foundation Offers New Evidence Linking Broccoli and Red Wine to Breast Cancer Prevention

A one-year NYU dental study funded by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has found new evidence that breast cancer may be inhibited by sulforaphane, a substance in broccoli, and resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine.

The principal investigator, Dr. Joseph B. Guttenplan, Professor of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology, determined that sulforaphane and resveratrol offer protection against the formation of mutations—a key early phase of breast cancer development. Moreover, Dr. Guttenplan's team found that when the two substances are combined, they offer significantly more protection against mutagenesis than they do individually.

Sulforaphane and resveratrol are widely available as over-the-counter dietary supplements. Dr. Guttenplan's study marks the first time that a combination of the two substances has been assessed for protection against breast cancer mutagenesis.

Dr. Guttenplan's team treated rat mammary cells with dimethylbenzanthracene-dihydrodiol, a synthetic carcinogen used to induce breast cancer in rats, then divided the cells into three groups. The first group received sulforaphane, the second resveratrol, and the third, a combination of the two.

When the researchers compared the three sets of cells against a control group receiving no additional supplements, they found 50 percent fewer mutations in the combined resveratrol– sulforaphane group, and 25 percent fewer mutations in the groups treated with either sulforaphane or resveratrol alone. The findings were presented in April 2010 at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Dr. Guttenplan said he plans to conduct a subsequent study in which resveratrol and sulforaphane will be injected directly into rats to inhibit breast cancer induced by a synthetic carcinogen.

Dr. Guttenplan's coinvestigators included Dr. Peter Sacks, Professor of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology at the NYU College of Dentistry.