Inhaling diesel fume particles leads to allergies, asthma, and lung cancer; Sulforaphane triggers detoxification enzymes that protects us from these dangers

December 13, 2007

Diesel fumes from trucks are packed with different cancer causing chemicals and noxious polluting gasses. A study in the year 2000 showed that men exposed to diesel fumes on the job had approximately as high a risk of developing lung cancer as those exposed to on the job asbestos; a known cause of lung cancer. Our own EPA linked diesel fumes to lung cancer in 2002. In our cities, towns, and highways, trucks and buses spew millions of tons of soot and pollutants into our air annually. These same fumes increase the likelihood of developing asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Diesel exhaust particles (DEP) generate free radicals, damage our DNA, and kill our cells; they trigger inflammation in our lungs and airways. Recent studies in animals show that antioxidants could alleviate the allergic inflammatory effects of DEP.

One of the best ways to protect ourselves from diesel fumes is to ensure that we achieve and maintain an optimal level of detoxification enzyme activity; these enzymes in our lungs, liver, and intestines that help neutralize and process diesel and other toxins out of our body. These same detoxification enzymes are also very powerful cellular antioxidants.

In human studies important Phase II detoxification enzymes related to Glutathione (GSTP1 and GSTM1 specifically) modify the effects of DEP on allergic inflammation. Sulforaphane, a constituent of broccoli, induces the activity of these enzymes and blocks DEP related inflammation in the lining of our airways reducing the release of immunoglobulins involved with inflammation, allergies, asthma, cell damage, and the link to cancer. Sulforaphane could help protect us from the cancer inducing effects of diesel fumes. The study was performed at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and is published in the journal Inhalation Toxicology, 2007;19 supplement 1.

Sulforaphane application protects from radiation

The suns ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a complete carcinogen needing no other factors to cause skin cancer. UVR causes a constellation of pathological events that lead to cancer including direct damage to DNA, generation of free radicals that damage the fats of the skin (lipid peroxidation), inflammation of the skin, and suppression of the immune systems ability to protect us from cancer and infection. Scientists have shown that redness of the skin caused by UVR is a direct marker of how much damage and inflammation you have suffered due to the current exposure, and it can be easily measured in humans.

In this study applying Sulforaphane derived from broccoli sprouts to the skin of mice and people increased the level and activity of important and protective phase-2 enzymes that help detoxify chemicals. Sulforaphane protected from inflammation and swelling and redness caused by UVR exposure. In the skin of study subjects exposed to 6 different levels of UVR Sulforaphane reduced redness on average by 38%. The protection against the cancer causing effects of UVR was long lasting. The study was performed at Johns Hopkins University and is published in the October 30th, 2007 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.; other nutrients that help protect the skin from the suns cancer causing effects include Milk Thistle, Green Tea if rich in EGCG, the carotenoids Lycopene, Lutein, and Astaxanthin, and Pomegranate's Ellagic Acid.