Norwich researchers to probe link between broccoli, garlic, and slowing down prostate cancer

Robert Mills, Consultant Urological Surgeon NNUH and NHS co-investigator, Dr Antonietta Melchini, Hu

Robert Mills, Consultant Urological Surgeon NNUH and NHS co-investigator, Dr Antonietta Melchini, Human Study Lead at the Quadram Institute Bioscience and Tracey Livingstone Urology Research Fellow and Principal Investigator of the ‘Norfolk ADaPt’ study. Picture: Norfolk and Norwich Foundation Trust - Credit: NHS Foundation Trust

The first study into whether broccoli and garlic can help slow down the progress of prostate cancer is being carried out in Norwich.

The research, which will be done by scientists at the Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), will look into whether the bioactive compounds in the foods could keep prostate cancer from becoming more serious.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK.

And the NNUH receives more than 800 referrals a year to investigate and treat potential prostate cancers.

However, it usually develops slowly and the majority of cancers will not require treatment in a man's lifetime.

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So most patients who do not require radical treatment are closely monitored on a programme of active surveillance with regular blood tests and biopsies to assess whether there is tumour progression.

But there are currently no approved therapeutic interventions for men who have chosen a programme of active surveillance that may reduce the risk of cancer progression.

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Tracey Livingstone, urology fellow at the NNUH and principal investigator of the trial, said: "Diet appears to have an important role in prostate cancer's development and progression. The dietary bioactive components from foods such as broccoli and garlic have long been associated with a reduction in the risk, or progression, of prostate cancer. However, there have been few trials which shed light on the potential mechanisms in which the prostate gland becomes exposed to these compounds."

"The trial aims to assess whether the consumption of dietary supplements containing the active compounds from broccoli and garlic results in an accumulation within the prostate gland and urine in comparison to a normal diet. We also aim to assess whether these compounds alter the prostatic microbiome, and the expression of the genes associated with prostate cancer development and progression."

The study will involve 40 patients who are due to receive a biopsy for suspected or previously diagnosed prostate cancer.

Patients who volunteer will be asked to consume four capsules a day for at least four weeks prior to their biopsy procedure and will be asked to provide urine and blood samples for testing, as well as additional prostate biopsy cores taken at the time of their routine procedure.

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