Green may be the new white, at least in sun protection. A green smear of broccoli extract prevents cancer-causing damage from ultraviolet light—not by blocking the rays, but by activating the skin’s natural cancer-fighting abilities, a new study finds. One advantage: Unlike conventional sunscreen, broccoli doesn't keep the sun’s rays from creating vitamin D in the skin. Another: The effect lasts even after the extract is washed off.
Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli—especially 3-day-old broccoli sprouts—activates “Phase 2” enzymes in human skin cells, the Washington Post reports. Those enzymes neutralize DNA-damaging molecules stimulated by sunlight and temper the inflammatory reaction that can turn precancerous cells into tumors. The product is still in an early stage; one thing scientists would like to figure out is how to remove the green pigment.