broccoli yogurt
Representational image.Creative Commons.

Broccoli and yogurt seem to be among one of the weirdest food combinations that would automatically make one ask "why?" and just belch at the thought of it, but recent studies reveal that broccoli-based yogurt could prevent and even treat colon cancer.

Singapore-based researchers have found that yogurt made with the 'superfood' could potentially kill 75 percent of tumours in mice and also more than 95 bowel cancer cells grown in the laboratory.

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Filled with a cancer-fighting chemical called sulforaphane, broccoli when combined with yogurt's probiotics, or bacteria which helps maintain a natural balance of organisms in the stomach, it becomes a 'disease-busting formula', researchers believe.

This, as Daily Mail reported, can be used as cancer preventive measures and also get rid of the remaining cells after surgical removal of tumours.

"One exciting aspect of our strategy is that it just capitalizes on our lifestyle, potentially transforming our normal diet into a sustainable, low-cost therapeutic regimen," said researcher Matthew Chang, a professor at the National University of Singapore.

A harmless form of bacteria called E. coli Nissle, which is found in the gut, was engineered by Professor Matthew Chang and Dr Chun-Loong Ho.

The probiotic attached itself to the surface of the bowel cancer cells and the enzymes it secreted, converted a substance found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables into a potent anti-cancer agent.

While in tests it killed almost all bowel cancer cells grown in a laboratory, the combination of yogurt and veg killed 75 percent of the tumours in mice with the same disease. Also, the tumours detected in these mice were also three times smaller than the ones found in those that were not fed the mix.

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The striking results suggested that someday people would be able to take probiotics as legitimate dietary supplements along with broccoli to ward off cancer and reduce the risks of a relapse.

But at the same time, this mixture had no effect whatsoever on cells from other types of cancer, like breast and stomach. The researchers also said that with these special bacteria a daily dosage of broccoli can keep cancer at bay.

Dr Ho said: "Mothers are right, after all, eating vegetables is important." The study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.