How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

Scientists say they have discovered why some vegetables - including cabbage, broccoli and kale - can reduce the risk of bowel cancers.

That cruciferous veg is good for the gut has never been in doubt but a detailed explanation has been elusive. The team at the Francis Crick Institute found anti-cancer chemicals were produced as the vegetables were digested. Cancer Research UK said there were plenty of reasons to eat more veg.

The work focused on how vegetables alter the lining of the intestines, by studying mice and miniature bowels growing in the lab. Like the skin, the surface of the bowels is constantly being regenerated in a process that takes four to five days. But this constant renewal needs to be tightly controlled, otherwise it could lead to cancer or gut inflammation.

And the work, published in the journal Immunity, showed chemicals in cruciferous vegetables were vital.