Researchers at UCLA just reported some interesting results at a recent meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. It involves a flavone from soy, genistein, and a secondary metabolite of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, etc...). Both of these compounds were tested in vitro on human breast cancer cell lines, and the results seem to indicate that, in controlled lab conditions, these botanical constituents inhibit the cancer cells' ability to metastasize, or spread to other areas. This is important in cancer therapy, since it is the spread of the disease to vital organs such as the lungs, liver, or kidneys that ultimately proves fatal.
The flavones and diindolymethane confound the cancer cells' ability to recognize cellular surface receptors from other tissues, lessening their ability to latch on to new surfaces and thus preventing their spread. And while this report provides interesting and encouraging evidence, it should be taken with a grain of salt: so far, the data is very preliminary and come from cells cultured in a petri dish. Nevertheless, it shouldn't surprise herbalists that flavones have cancer-protective effects: this broad family of plants has been shown to protect us from cellular mutations, DNA damage, oxidative stress, and metastasis time and time again.