(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A plant Celts and Britons used to make blue dye for their war paint could now help in the fight against breast cancer. The blue dye comes from Woad, which belongs to the same plant family as cauliflower and broccoli.
New research reveals Woad is a rich source of the anti-cancer compound glucobrassicin (GBS). The study from Bologna University in Italy revealed it has 20-times more GBS than broccoli. Using a variety of methods, researchers were able to enhance that amount 65 times. When insects damage the leaves, the plant releases even more GBS as a defense mechanism. Researchers wounded the leaves, increasing the levels by 30 percent.
Previous research has already suggested eating vegetables rich in chemicals such as GBS may protect against cancer. The theory is GBS flushes out cancer-causing compounds including derivatives of estrogen. Women with higher levels of estrogen are more at risk of developing breast cancer.
Researchers say Woad may be the first cheap, rich source of GBS. They hope to use it for future studies to see how it acts in the body.
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SOURCE: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, published online Aug. 14, 2006