Watercress supplementation in diet reduces lymphocyte DNA damage and alters blood antioxidant status in healthy adults
Gill, C.I.R., Haldar, S., Boyd, L.A., Bennett, R., Whitefield, J., Butler, M., Pearson, J.R., Bradbury, I. and Rowland, I.R. (2007) Watercress supplementation in diet reduces lymphocyte DNA damage and alters blood antioxidant status in healthy adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85 (2). 504-510 . ISSN 0002-9165
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Background: Cruciferous vegetable (CV) consumption is associated with a reduced risk of several cancers in epidemiologic studies. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the effects of watercress (a CV) supplementation on biomarkers related to cancer risk in healthy adults. Design: A single-blind, randomized, crossover study was conducted in 30 men and 30 women (30 smokers and 30 nonsmokers) with a mean age of 33 y (range: 19-55 y). The subjects were fed 85 g raw watercress daily for 8 wk in addition to their habitual diet. The effect of supplementation was measured on a range of endpoints, including DNA damage in lymphocytes (with the comet assay), activity of detoxifying enzymes (glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase) in erythrocytes, plasma antioxidants (retinol, ascorbic acid, a-tocopherol, lutein, and beta-carotene), plasma total antioxidant status with the use of the ferric reducing ability of plasma assay, and plasma lipid profile. Results: Watercress supplementation (active compared with control phase) was associated with reductions in basal DNA damage (by 17%; P = 0.03), in basal plus oxidative purine DNA damage (by 23.9%; P = 0.002), and in basal DNA damage in response to ex vivo hydrogen peroxide challenge (by 9.4%; P = 0.07). Beneficial changes seen after watercress intervention were greater and more significant in smokers than in nonsmokers. Plasma lutein and P-carotene increased significantly by 100% and 33% (P < 0.001), respectively, after watercress supplementation. Conclusion: The results support the theory that consumption of watercress can be linked to a reduced risk of cancer via decreased damage to DNA and possible modulation of antioxidant status by increasing carotenoid concentrations.