Researchers have discovered that a compound found in broccoli can specifically target cancer stem cells that fuel tumor growth, according to a study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Sulforaphane, found in broccoli and broccoli sprouts, proved to kill cancer stem cells in both mice and cell cultures, and also stopped new tumors from growing.

There is no current chemotherapy treatment to target cancer stem cells, which are the reason cancer is able to recur and spread. The study appears in the May issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

"Sulforaphane has been studied previously for its effects on cancer, but this study shows that its benefit is in inhibiting the breast cancer stem cells. This new insight suggests the potential of sulforaphane or broccoli extract to prevent or treat cancer by targeting the critical cancer stem cells," said Duxin Sun, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the U-M College of Pharmacy and author of the study.

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