One of the American Cancer Society's key dietary recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer is to include cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli,Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, in the diet on a regular basis. The cabbage family of vegetables contains more phytochemicals with demonstrable anti-cancer properties than any other vegetable family. Most of these compounds are glucosinolates. The compounds receiving the most attention are indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane, di-indolmethane, and isothiocyanates. The anti-cancer effects of cabbage-family vegetables have been noted in population studies. Consistently, the higher the intake of cabbage-family vegetables, the lower the rates of cancer, particularly colon, prostate, lung, and breast cancer. The glucosinolates in cabbage work primarily by increasing antioxidant defense mechanisms, as well as improving the body's ability to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. Specifically, indole-3- carbinole (I3C), has been shown to increase the rate at which estrogen is broken down through the liver's detoxification pathway by nearly 50 percent.
Cabbage has also been shown to be extremely effective in the treatment of peptic ulcers. The anti-ulcer component of cabbage was initially referred to as "vitamin U," but later identified as the amino acid glutamine, a critical factor in the growth and regeneration of the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract.