Broccoli compound shows promise for treating autism

A new study suggests that a compound extracted from broccoli sprouts may improve some social and behavioral problems that affect people with autism.

The study was short-term and small, including just over 40 teenage boys and young men with autism.

“This is just one study, and it’s a preliminary study,” said lead researcher Dr. Kanwaljit Singh, of Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

It’s also important to note that not everyone responded to the treatment. About one-third of those treated with the compound didn’t have a positive response, according to the study.

The compound in question is called sulforaphane, and it’s naturally found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. The chemical has been widely studied for its potential benefits against cancer, according to Singh.

But in the new study, reported on Oct. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online, researchers chose to test sulforaphane as an autism therapy.

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