Japanese Condiment a Powerful Weapon against Cancer

A new study shows that a sushi bar staple could be a powerful weapon against bladder cancer.

The study comes from Dr. Arup Bhattacharya. He has degrees in microbiology, biophysics, and psychology, including a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics from the Department of Cancer Biology at the State University of New York.

One focus of his research is on a group of compounds called isothiocyanates. These compounds are formed when your body breaks down nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale.

Dr. Bhattacharya is studying these various breakdown products and their role in cancer treatment. His recent study, published in the journal, Carcinogenesis, shows that one of these compounds, “strongly inhibits the development and progression of bladder cancer.”1 The organic compound doing the work is called allyl isothiocyanate (AITC).

What Happens When Bladder Cancer Meets AITC?

In untreated control subjects with bladder cancer, the researchers found that tumors invaded the muscle tissue surrounding the bladder 71 percent of the time. In subjects treated with AITC, bladder cancer growth was cut by 34.5 percent. AITC also “blocked muscle invasion by 100 percent.”

AITC slowed the growth of the cancer and stopped it from spreading to the muscles.

Dr. Anthony Di Pasqua is a bioinorganic chemist at the University of North Carolina. He also conducted a study on AITC, which led to the same conclusion. “Our studies have shown that, once inside the cell, ITCs bind to proteins and that protein binding is closely associated with the ability to induce apoptosis,” said Dr. Di Pasqua. Apoptosis is when a cell is programmed to kill itself. That’s what you want cancer cells to do.

How does AITC help?

When you eat cruciferous vegetables, compounds called glucosinolates are broken down to form cancer-fighting isothiocyanates. In addition to beneficial effects throughout the body, these compounds end up in the urine. That’s where they potentially come into contact with bladder cancer cells and work their magic.

AITC has been found to be particularly effective against bladder cancer. And while it is formed when you eat many cruciferous vegetables, one plant helps you to form more than any other. In fact, when you consume this plant, you produce as much as 40 times more AITC than you would by eating broccoli!

The Japanese Way to Battle Cancer

The plant is called Wasabia japonica, known to sushi lovers as wasabi. Wasabi is a root vegetable that is ground into a paste. Other plants that help to produce large amounts of AITC include mustard and horseradish. Like wasabi, they pack a lot of heat. The burn is from the AITC.

You can buy wasabi powder online and in most international markets. Just mix with water and let sit for a few minutes. And it’s not just for sushi. You can also add it to sauces, dressings and dips for a spicy zing… and powerful protection against cancer.

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1 http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/2/281.abstract

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Health Topic: Cancer

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