WASHINGTON -- Broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain a chemical that kills the bacteria responsible for most stomach cancer, say researchers, confirming the dietary advice that moms have been handing out for years.
In laboratory tests the chemical, sulforaphane, killed helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and often fatal stomach cancers.
And the good news is there appears to be enough of it in broccoli sprouts and some varieties of broccoli to benefit people who eat the vegetables.
"The levels at which we tested it ... are such that those could be achieved by eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts. It's a reasonable level that we think would be reached in the stomach," said Jed W. Fahey of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Paul Talalay, a co-researcher at Johns Hopkins, had previously reported sulforaphane is an effective anticancer agent and the new studies extended that work to the bacteria that causes stomach cancer and ulcers.
In the lab, the scientists found that sulforaphane even killed helicobacter that was resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
They also showed it can kill the bacterium whether it's inside or outside cells. In people, the bacteria can hide in cells lining the stomach, making it more difficult to get rid of the infection, said Fahey.
The studies concentrated on mice. Researchers will now seek to determine of the same occurs in humans.