Looming environmental apocalypse got you down?
Keep calm. Drink broccoli. And pee your troubles away.
At least, that's the idea behind a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research this week.
Scientists say imbibing tea made from broccoli sprouts can help stave off the ravages of environmental pollution. Thanks, in part, to the high levels of sulforaphane -- a plant compound that has already demonstrated cancer-fighting abilities in animal tests.
Just a half cup of the beverage daily, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and China's Qidong Liver Cancer Institute, and you're golden. The tea, they report, expedited bathroom breaks, most notably bidding a good riddance to a human carcinogen called benzene.
Typically found in polluted areas, benzene comes at the modern human from all quarters: burning tobacco, gas stations, detergents, car exhaust, paints and, seemingly, modernity itself.
As the body stocks up on that seemingly ubiquitous carcinogen, human cells stop working, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC rhymes off laundry list of health woes: drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, tremors, confusion... unconsciousness.
And not to be forgotten, death.
Benzene is associated with a wide range of cancers.
This Beijing street scene, captured in February 2014, offers a veritable smorgasbord of air-born carcinogens.
And the World Health Organization pegs the number of people who die from the effects of air pollution at around 7 million every year.
"Air pollution is a complex and pervasive public health problem," one of the study's co-authors, John Groopman, noted in a press release. "To address this problem comprehensively, in addition to the engineering solutions to reduce regional pollution emissions, we need to translate our basic science into strategies to protect individuals from these exposures."
Here's where broccoli tea goes in.
And benzene goes out.
Sipping on a broccoli beverage, researchers found, upped the excretion of benzene by 61 per cent in test subjects over the course of the 12-week study. Another environmental hazard — a known lung irritant called acrolein — was also expunged from the body at a much higher-than-usual clip.
"This study points to a frugal, simple, and safe means that can be taken by individuals," lead researcher Thomas Kensler from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explained, "to possibly reduce some of the long-term health risks associated with air pollution."
Although this study involved giving participants -- from an industrial, smog-heavy city in China -- a beverage containing freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder mixed with water, there's no reason to think simply eating the vegetable won't have a similar effect.
After all, it has long been established that broccoli is the crown of cruciferous creation.
Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013, scientists noted: "A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables effectively retunes our metabolism.. In this manner, cruciferous vegetables may be able to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases associated with aging."