You’ve heard it over and over…eat your broccoli. Nutritional experts tout it as a superfood. It is low in calories, high in fiber, contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin C as well as providing you with vitamin A, calcium, iron and protein. And now, researchers have found that this vegetable may be able to protect you from skin cancer – not by eating it, but by wearing it.
Broccoli, along with other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts) contain a compound called sulforaphane. This compound inhibits cancer-causing pathways as well as triggering chemoprotective genes.
Dr. Paul Taladay, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at John Hopkins University School of Medicine tested using this compound to help rev up the protective enzymes in your skin. According to Taladay, there are four main causes of skin damage: oxidation, DNA damage, inflammation and radiation (UV radiation). Our cells have protective properties but usually only work at one-third capacity. Taladay wanted to boost those protective properties.
There were six participants in the study, all healthy. Each participant was exposed to UV radiation on two circles on their back. They were then divided in two groups. One group was treated with a broccoli extract and the other was not.
Those who received the highest dose of the extract showed reduced UV-induced redness and inflammation – on average by 37 percent although the highest reduction was by 78 percent. According to Taladay, “If you apply an extract of broccoli sprouts that contains high levels of sulforaphane to regions of human skin, you can protect them very substantially. We believe, to the best of our knowledge, that this is the first demonstration of protection against a known human carcinogen in humans.” 
Researchers note that broccoli isn’t the same as sunscreen. You can’t rub it on your skin and go out in the sun –“it does not absorb the ultraviolet rays of the sun…you will have no protection whatsoever.”  Rather, it is hoped the compound can be used to boost immune systems to fight damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. The research team believes this may be especially useful for those with compromised or weak immune systems.
“Broccoli Could Be ‘Sunscreen Against Skin Cancer,’” 2013, Sept 9, Honor Whiteman, Medical News Today
  “Broccoli May Help Fight Skin Cancer,” 2013, October 25, Amanda Gardner, HealthDay
Published On: November 19, 2013