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Antioxidant Found in Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts Protects Eyes From Light Damage


Antioxidant Found in Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts Protects Eyes From Light Damage
Discovery May Lead to Dietary Strategies for Preventing Macular Degeneration

BALTIMORE, Jul 13, 2004 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Carrots may be the first vegetable that comes to mind when people think of protecting their eyesight, but a new study shows broccoli and broccoli sprouts should be added to the list. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that sulforaphane, the naturally-occurring antioxidant in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, protects the eye from damage caused by UV light which can lead to macular degeneration. The study is published in the July 13, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Human epithelial cells in the eyes are very sensitive to damage caused by the presence of oxidants, which are generated by exposure to light (photooxidation). The eye has a number of antioxidant functions to reduce damage to the retina, but, as people age, the eye becomes less efficient at removing oxidants. This is believed to be a major cause of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly.

Paul Talalay, M.D., Professor and Xiangqun Gao at the Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins Medical School, demonstrated the ability of sulforaphane and other Phase 2 enzyme inducers to protect human retinal cells from photooxidative damage in the laboratory. This protection increased with the amount of sulforaphane provided (was dose-dependent).

"Baby Boomers should take interest in developments in this area. There is growing evidence that sulforaphane, found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, provides protection against the types of injury believed to contribute to the development and progression of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in elderly Americans," said Peter Gehlbach, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Diseases of the Retina and Vitreous, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

More than 125 scientific papers have been published on sulforaphane, broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Dr. Talalay's laboratory has produced many discoveries about the protective effects of sulforaphane, including its ability to inhibit tumor growth and also kill bacteria in the stomach that leads to ulcers and stomach cancer. Most recently, Dr. Talalay assisted with a study conducted by Dr. Bernhard Juurlink at the University of Saskatchewan, which showed feeding broccoli sprouts to rats prevented high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, May 4, 2004).

Dr. Talalay and his colleagues were the first to discover in 1997 that broccoli sprouts -- 3-day-old broccoli plants -- provide twenty times the concentration of sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS(TM)) as found in adult broccoli. These broccoli sprouts are now available to consumers as BroccoSprouts(R), which are licensed and patented by Johns Hopkins. One ounce of BroccoSprouts has the same amount of SGS as 11/4 pounds of mature, cooked broccoli.

BroccoSprouts are marketed by Brassica Protection Products LLC (BPP), located in Baltimore. A portion of the proceeds from BroccoSprouts sales are contributed to The Brassica Foundation for Chemoprotection Research to support further research into the link between nutrition and disease. In addition, natural extracts from broccoli sprouts containing certified high levels of SGS are also found in Brassica(R) Teas. These teas are licensed by Johns Hopkins University and are available in black and green tea varieties and in regular and decaffeinated. For more information, visit or

The studies mentioned above include:

"Induction of phase 2 genes by sulforaphane protects retinal pigment epithelial cells against photooxidative damage." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 101, pp. 10446-10451. July 13, 2004.

"Sulforaphane inhibits extracellular, intracellular and antibiotic-resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori and prevents benzo[a]pyrene-induced stomach tumors." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 99, pp. 7610-7615. May 28, 2002.

"Dietary Approach to Attenuate Oxidative Stress, Hypertension and Inflammation in the Cardiovascular System." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 101, pp. 7094-7099. May 4, 2004.

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