Recent scientific research from the University of Southampton has shown that a plant compound in watercress might be able to subdue the development of breast cancer by stopping a signal in the body which gives the tumour blood and oxygen.
Professor Graham Packham, a molecular oncologist from the University of Southampton led the research, working with Barbara Parry, Senior Research Dietician at the Winchester and Andover Breast Unit. The found that phenylethyl isothiocyanate, a compound found in watercress, is able to prevent the signals that tumours send out to make normal tissues grow new blood vessels into the tumour to provide it with oxygen and nutrients. The compound found in watercress can interfere with a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF).
A study was carried out on a small group of breast cancer survivors, which showed high levels of the plant compound in their blood once they ate watercress after fasting. More importantly, the study showed that the protein that helps the cancer grow was affected.
Professor Packham emphasised the importance of continuing research on the connection between the food that we eat and the development of cancer.
The study has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition and Biochemical Pharmacology, revealing more about watercress’ ability to fight cancer, although more research is still needed to ascertain the direct impact watercress has on decreasing cancer risk.