Recently reported from the University of Arizona Cancer Center (UACC), Sally Dickinson, Ph.D., a pharmacology professor and a UACC member, has turned her focus towards cruciferous vegetables as a tool to fight against cancer. Dickinson began investigating the chemotherapy preventive properties of broccoli when she began her postdoctoral studies in 2005.
Currently, she is focusing on how the naturally occurring compound in broccoli, known as sulforaphane, could be used to help reduce the risk of skin cancer due to its established chemotherapy preventive properties.
As a part of her research, Dickinson is asking patients to apply small doses of sulforaphane to their skin instead of eating broccoli to unlock the risk-reduction nutrients. Through her investigation, sulforaphane has been shown to be a highly adaptable and effective agent in preventing cancer-causing pathways and activating chemotherapy protective genes. “Even though there is heightened awareness about the need for limited sun exposure and use of sunscreens, we’re still seeing far too many cases of skin cancer each year,” Dickinson said. “We’re searching for better methods to prevent skin cancer in formats that are affordable and manageable for public use. Sulforaphane may be an excellent candidate for use in the prevention of skin cancer caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays.” In collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, Dickinson’s pilot study will test a topical solution using broccoli sprout to see if the compound is effective in the context of solar simulated light. Should the research prove to be successful, it could lead to more applications for sulforaphane.