Eat your vegetables, they say, but a new study might make you want to rub them on your skin instead. The paper shows that an ingredient extracted from broccoli can help prevent sunburn damage. The researchers hope that the findings will eventually lead to a new type of sun protection that perks up the body’s own defenses. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and many chemical compounds cause oxidative damage to our DNA, which can lead to cancer. Humans have a natural defense system to break down these oxidizing agents, but UV radiation doesn’t kick it into high gear. That’s why cancer researchers have been looking for ways to activate these natural antioxidants.
Broccoli and related vegetables produce a compound called sulforaphane that is known to do just that.