broccoli, garlic
Selenium, a trace mineral naturally found in plant foods, facilitated this by repairing the over activated immune system caused by different types of cancers.F Delventhal/krossbow/Flickr

A compound found in broccoli and garlic can help treat cancer, researchers reveal.

Selenium, a trace mineral naturally found in plant foods, facilitated this by repairing the over activated immune system involved in cancer.

During the study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark identified that certain mechanisms present in cancer cells protected them from being recognised and disposed by the natural immune system of the body. These undetected cancer cells often overexpress immunostimulatory molecules in liquid form, and thus affect the proper functioning of the immune system.

The study mainly concentrated on one main variant that can adopt a liquid form known as NGK2D ligands. Researchers found that the selenium compounds were highly effective in blocking the immunostimulatory molecule, which is the root cause of certain aggressive types of cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer and leukaemia.

"We are now able to show that selenium compounds appear to have a very beneficial effect when it comes to neutralising the special variant of the NGK2D ligand – both in soluble form and when the molecule is placed on the cell surface," Professor Søren Skov from the University of Copenhagen, said in a news release.

Professor Skov expected that these findings will help improve cancer treatment: "The overexpression seen in cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer and certain types of leukaemia significantly impairs the immune system. If we can find ways to slow down the over-stimulation, we are on the right track. The new results are yet another small step towards better cancer drugs with fewer adverse effects."

The study has been published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Selenium-Some Facts

Selenium, according to Medline Plus, can be mainly acquired through proper intake of vegetables. Apart from that, eggs, chicken, red meat, grains and fish are some other foods that can help get sufficient amount of the mineral.

Selenium is one of the most important minerals needed for keeping the body healthy as it prevents cell damage and also protects the body after a vaccination.

It has also been found promising in protecting against the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer; and in eliminating certain toxic effects associated with an exposure to heavy metals.

Keshan disease (disease caused by defect of the heart muscle), Kashin-Beck disease (a joint and bone disease), Myxedematous endemic cretinism (causes intellectual disability) are some of the diseases caused by the deficiency of selenium.