Foods contain chemicals that help repair DNA Study backs link between diet and disease Ian Sample, science correspondent February 9, 2006 Natural chemicals found in soya beans and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower boost the body's ability to repair damaged DNA and may prevent cells turning cancerous, scientists said yesterday. Studies have suggested that eating vegetables appears to provide some protection against certain cancers, but until now the reason why has been a mystery. Researchers at Georgetown University in Washington DC believe the answer lies with two naturally occurring compounds. The first, indole-3-carbinol or I3C is abundant in vegetables including broccoli and cabbage, while the second, genistein, occurs naturally in soya beans. The researchers found that when the chemicals were added to cells they boosted the activity of two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, both of which play a crucial role in detecting damaged DNA and marshalling a cell's response to fix it. Mutations in either of these genes often lead to breast, ovarian and prostate cancer because they are unable to prevent damaged DNA being passed on to the next generation of cells.