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Smokers: Eat Your Cabbage!

We've recently posted articles about how smoking makes you fat (contrary to popular belief). No one should smoke (and that means YOU), but if you do, start eating cruciferous vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, radish, turnip and watercress. They may protect you from lung cancer?IF you have the right genes.

The prestigious medical journal The Lancet says while earlier studies have suggested that these foods might play a role in preventing lung cancer, their results weren?t conclusive. The latest research indicates that a person's genetic makeup may either influence or mask this effect. Here's how it works: Cruciferous vegetables are rich in isothiocyanates, which are proven cancer fighters. Despite this, most people's bodies are programmed to eliminate them, because poisonous food have a similar bitter taste, and our ancestors evolved a self-protective dislike of this taste. When the first President Bush announced that he didn't like broccoli, he didn't know it, but he was talking about his DNA.

In some people, the genes that do this are inactive, reducing their ability to eliminate isothiocyanates. They have an inactive form of what's called the GSTT1 gene, causing them to retain higher concentrations of isothiocyanates when they eat these vegetables. Isothiocyanates combat carcinogens by neutralizing them, reducing their poisonous effect, so they can pass harmlessly out of the body.

In a study, scientists studied 2,141 patients with lung cancer and compared them to 2,168 age and sex-matched controls from six countries in eastern and central Europe, where many people smoke AND they also eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables. The participants completed a food questionnaire, and the researchers got their DNA from a blood sample.In people who had an inactive form of the GSTM1 gene, weekly consumption of cruciferous vegetables had a 33% protective effect against lung cancer.

Since even nonsmokers can get lung cancer, we should all eat these vegetables regularly, even if we have to overcome our heredity in order to do it.

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Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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