Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of human cancer: epidemiological evidence: Conference on ‘Multidisciplinary approaches to nutritional problems’ Symposium on ‘Nutrition and health’

  • Mi Kyung Kim (a1) and Jung Han Yoon Park (a2)

Over several decades a number of epidemiological studies have identified the inverse associations between cruciferous vegetables and the risk of several cancers, including gastric, breast, colo-rectal, lung, prostate, bladder and endometrial cancers, via plausible physiological mechanisms. Although retrospective case–control studies have consistently reported inverse associations between the risk of these cancers and the intake of cruciferous vegetables and isothiocyanate-containing plants, current prospective cohort studies have found these associations to be weaker and less consistent. Genetic variations affecting the metabolism of glucosinolate hydrolysis products may modulate the effects of cruciferous vegetable consumption on cancer risk, which may be one of the reasons for the discrepancies between retrospective and prospective studies. In addition, methodological issues such as measurement errors of dietary exposure, misclassification, recall bias, publication bias, confounding and study design should be carefully considered in interpreting the results of case–control and cohort studies and in drawing conclusions in relation to the potential effects of cruciferous vegetables on cancers. Although recent comprehensive reviews of numerous studies have purported to show the specific protective role of cruciferous vegetables, and particularly Brassicas, against cancer risk, the current epidemiological evidence suggests that cruciferous vegetable consumption may reduce the risk only of gastric and lung cancers. However, there is at present no conclusive evidence that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables attenuates the risk of all other cancers.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of human cancer: epidemiological evidence
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of human cancer: epidemiological evidence
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of human cancer: epidemiological evidence
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Professor Jung Han Yoon Park, fax +82 33 256 0199, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

2. P Anand , AB Kunnumakara , C Sundaram (2008) Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharm Res 25, 20972116.

6. H Adlercreutz (2002) Phyto-oestrogens and cancer. Lancet Oncol 3, 364373.

7. SD Stan , S Kar , GD Stoner (2007) Bioactive food components and cancer risk reduction. J Cell Biochem 104, 339356.

8. BB Aggarwal & S Shishodia (2006) Molecular targets of dietary agents for prevention and therapy of cancer. Biochem Pharmacol 71, 13971421.

10. A Oganesian , JD Hendricks & DE Williams (1997) Long term dietary indole-3-carbinol inhibits diethylnitrosamine-initiated hepatocarcinogenesis in the infant mouse model. Cancer Lett 118, 8794.

11. B Srivastava & Y Shukla (1998) Antitumour promoting activity of indole-3-carbinol in mouse skin carcinogenesis. Cancer Lett 134, 9195.

12. J Zhang , BAJ Hsu , BAM Kinseth (2003) Indole-3-carbinol induces a G1 cell cycle arrest and inhibits prostate-specific antigen production in human LNCaP prostate carcinoma cells. Cancer 98, 25112520.

13. HR Frydoonfar , DR McGrath & AD Spigelman (2002) Inhibition of proliferation of a colon cancer cell line by indole-3-carbinol. Colorectal Dis 4, 205207.

14. KR Grose & LF Bjeldanes (1992) Oligomerization of indole-3-carbinol in aqueous acid. Chem Res Toxicol 5, 188193.

15. CA De Kruif , JW Marsman , JC Venekamp (1991) Structure elucidation of acid reaction products of indole-3-carbinol: detection in vivo and enzyme induction in vitro. Chem Biol Interact 80, 303315.

17. X Chang , JC Tou , C Hong (2005) 3,3′-Diindolylmethane inhibits angiogenesis and the growth of transplantable human breast carcinoma in athymic mice. Carcinogenesis 26, 771778.

18. M Nachshon-Kedmi , FA Fares & S Yannai (2004) Therapeutic activity of 3,3′-diindolylmethane on prostate cancer in an in vivo model. Prostate 61, 153160.

19. S Safe (2001) Molecular biology of the Ah receptor and its role in carcinogenesis. Toxicol Lett 120, 17.

20. CR Wolf (2001) Chemoprevention: increased potential to bear fruit. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98, 29412943.

23. M Abdelrahim , K Newman , K Vanderlaag (2006) 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) and its derivatives induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells through endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent upregulation of DR5. Carcinogenesis 27, 717728.

25. C Hong , HA Kim , GL Firestone (2002) 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) induces a G(1) cell cycle arrest in human breast cancer cells that is accompanied by Sp1-mediated activation of p21(WAF1/CIP1) expression. Carcinogenesis 23, 12971305.

28. AN Kong , E Owuor , R Yu (2001) Induction of xenobiotic enzymes by the MAP kinase pathway and the antioxidant or electrophile response element (ARE/EpRE). Drug Metab Rev 33, 255271.

29. RH Kolm , UH Danielson , Y Zhang (1995) Isothiocyanates as substrates for human glutathione transferases: structure-activity studies. Biochem J 311, 453459.

31. Y Zhang , S Yao & J Li (2006) Vegetable-derived isothiocyanates: anti-proliferative activity and mechanism of action. Proc Nutr Soc 65, 6875.

32. JV Higdon , B Delage , DE Williams (2007) Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 55, 224236.

34. SA Smith-Warner , D Spiegelman , S-S Yaun (2001) Intake of fruits and vegetables and risk of breast cancer: a pooled analysis of cohort studies. JAMA 285, 769776.

35. SA Smith-Warner , D Spiegelman , S-S Yaun (2003) Fruits, vegetables and lung cancer: A pooled analysis of cohort studies. Int J Cancer 107, 10011011.

36. A Koushik , DJ Hunter , D Spiegelman (2005) Fruits and vegetables and ovarian cancer risk in a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14, 21602167.

37. A Koushik , DJ Hunter , D Spiegelman (2007) Fruits, vegetables, and colon cancer risk in a pooled analysis of 14 cohort studies. J Natl Cancer Inst 99, 14711483.

38. JE Lee , E Giovannucci , SA Smith-Warner (2006) Intakes of fruits, vegetables, vitamins a, c, and e, and carotenoids and risk of renal cell cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 15, 24452452.

39. KA Steinmetz & JD Potter (1996) Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: A review. J Am Diet Assoc 96, 10271039.

40. M Hara , T Hanaoka , M Kobayashi (2003) Cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and gastrointestinal cancer risks in a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in Japan. Nutr Cancer 46, 138147.

42. SA Smith-Warner , J Genkinger & E Giovannucci (2006) Fruit and vegetable intake and cancer. In Nutritional Oncology, 2nd ed., pp. 97173 [ D Heber , GL Blackburn , VL Go and J Milner editors]. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

43. LE Voorrips , RA Goldbohm , DTH Verhoeven (2000) Vegetable and fruit consumption and lung cancer risk in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer. Cancer Causes Control 11, 101115.

45. D Feskanich , RG Ziegler , DS Michaud (2000) Prospective study of fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of lung cancer among men and women. J Natl Cancer Inst 92, 18121823.

46. AB Miller , HP Altenburg , B Bueno-de-Mesquita (2004) Fruits and vegetables and lung cancer: Findings from the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition. Int J Cancer 108, 269276.

48. AR Kristal & JW Lampe (2002) Brassica vegetables and prostate cancer risk: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Nutr Cancer 42, 19.

50. JH Cohen , AR Kristal & JL Stanford (2000) Fruit and vegetable intakes and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst 92, 6168.

51. MA Joseph , KB Moysich , JL Freudenheim (2004) Cruciferous vegetables, genetic polymorphisms in glutathione S-transferases M1 and T1, and prostate cancer risk. Nutr Cancer 50, 206213.

52. MG Jain , GT Hislop , GR Howe (1999) Plant foods, antioxidants, and prostate cancer risk: findings from case-control studies in Canada. Nutr Cancer 34, 173184.

54. VA Kirsh , U Peters , ST Mayne (2007) Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 99, 12001209.

55. TJ Key , N Allen , P Appleby (2004) Fruits and vegetables and prostate cancer: no association among 1104 cases in a prospective study of 130544 men in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Int J Cancer 109, 119124.

58. DS Michaud , D Spiegelman , SK Clinton (1999) Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a male prospective cohort. J Natl Cancer Inst 91, 605613.

59. DS Michaud , P Pietinen , PR Taylor (2002) Intakes of fruits and vegetables, carotenoids and vitamins A, E, C in relation to the risk of bladder cancer in the ATBC cohort study. Br J Cancer 87, 960965.

60. H Zhao , J Lin , HB Grossman (2007) Dietary isothiocyanates, GSTM1, GSTT1, NAT2 polymorphisms and bladder cancer risk. Int J Cancer 120, 22082213.

61. EV Bandera , LH Kushi , DF Moore (2007) Fruits and vegetables and endometrial cancer risk: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Nutr Cancer 58, 621.

62. AJ Littman , SA Beresford & E White (2001) The association of dietary fat and plant foods with endometrial cancer (United States). Cancer Causes Control 12, 691702.

63. MH Tao , WH Xu , W Zheng (2005) A case-control study in Shanghai of fruit and vegetable intake and endometrial cancer. Br J Cancer 92, 20592064.

66. A Seow , H Vainio & MC Yu (2005) Effect of glutathione-S-transferase polymorphisms on the cancer preventive potential of isothiocyanates: an epidemiological perspective. Mutat Res 592, 5867.

67. J Ahn , MD Gammon , RM Santella (2006) Effects of glutathione S-transferase A1 (GSTA1) genotype and potential modifiers on breast cancer risk. Carcinogenesis 27, 18761882.

68. Z Ye , H Song , JPT Higgins (2006) Five glutathione S-transferase gene variants in 23,452 cases of lung cancer and 30,397 controls: meta-analysis of 130 studies. PLoS Med 3, 524534.

69. A Seow , JM Yuan , CL Sun (2002) Dietary isothiocyanates, glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms and colorectal cancer risk in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Carcinogenesis 23, 20552061.

70. LI Wang , EL Giovannucci , D Hunter (2004) Dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables, glutathione S-transferase (GST) polymorphisms and lung cancer risk in a Caucasian population. Cancer Causes and Control 15, 977985.

71. SJ London , JM Yuan , FL Chung (2000) Isothiocyanates, glutathione S-transferase M1 and T1 polymorphisms, and lung-cancer risk: a prospective study of men in Shanghai, China. Lancet 356, 724729.

72. SE Steck , MM Gaudet , JA Britton (2007) Interactions among GSTM1, GSTT1 and GSTP1 polymorphisms, cruciferous vegetable intake and breast cancer risk. Carcinogenesis 28, 19541959.

73. MM Gaudet , AF Olshan , C Poole (2004) Diet, GSTM1 and GSTT1 and head and neck cancer. Carcinogenesis 25, 735740.

74. LE Moore , P Brennan , S Karami (2007) Glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms, cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk in the Central and Eastern European Kidney Cancer Study. Carcinogenesis 28, 19601964.

75. MJ Tijhuis , PA Wark , JMMJG Aarts (2005) GSTP1 and GSTA1 polymorphisms interact with cruciferous vegetable intake in colorectal adenoma risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14, 29432951.

78. MD Gammon , AI Neugut , RM Santella (2002) The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project: description of a multi-institutional collaboration to identify environmental risk factors for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 74, 235254.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 100 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 213 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.