Broccoli has been hailed as a 'superfood' after several studies suggested it had anti-cancer properties.
Now scientists have identified a chemical in the vegetable which interact with genes involved in cancer development.
The chemical called sulforaphane seems to counteract a fault with the gene called PTEN which is involved in prostate cancer.
The gene normally stops cancer from developing but in certain cells it is missing and this is when the disease can begin. However sulforaphane seems to dampen the effect of these cells that are missing PTEN and prevent them from triggering cancer growth.
The study was conducted by a team at the Institute of Food Research at the Norwich Research Park, using prostate tissue from men and cancerous cells from mice.
The discovery could lead to new treatments for the disease which affects 36,000 men a year.
The findings are published in the journal BioMed Central, Molecular Cancer.