Assessing the Effect of Glucobrassicin-rich Brussels Sprouts on the Metabolism of Deuterated Phenanthrene: Developing Food-based Chemoprevention of Tobacco-related Lung Cancer

What is the purpose of the study?

Cigarette smoke contains many chemicals called carcinogens, some of which are known to cause cancer. The purpose of this study is to see how you process a chemical called deuterated phenanthrene. Phenanthrene is one of a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are found naturally in the environment, but they can also be man-made, like in cigarette smoke. Certain PAHs in cigarette smoke are thought to be among the most likely causes of lung cancer. Although phenanthrene is not cancer-causing, it is processed by the body in the same way as other PAH that do cause cancer in animals, and is therefore used to study how people process PAHs. [D10]phenanthrene is identical to environmental phenanthrene except that it has deuterium (also known as heavy hydrogen) attached to it so we can separate this [D10]phenanthrene given during the study and the phenanthrene you’re exposed to in everyday life from things like cigarette smoke or pollution. Prior research has shown there are differences in how people process [D10]phenanthrene. These differences might be important to help figure out which smokers might be at risk for lung cancer from smoking.

Chemicals like indole-3-carbinol or 3,3´-diindolylmethane (DIM) that are found in vegetables like Brussels sprouts have been shown to prevent lung tumor formation in animals. We would like to see if eating Brussels sprouts can positively change the way people process [D10]phenanthrene.

We would also like to get an idea of whether eating Brussels sprouts might change the composition of immune system cells in the blood. We also would like to collect cells from your nose, to see if the genes, which are the tools in the cells that control the cell’s behavior, are changed by eating the vegetables. This information will help us design future studies.

How often are the clinic visits?

You will be asked to come to the study center once daily for 7 days in a row. 

Your direct participation is anticipated to take 8-11 days.

What will I be doing in the study?

We will first confirm your eligibilty and ask you questions about your health and somking history. Blood will be collected at the beginning and end of the study to look at the number and function of your white blood cells. 

We will ask you to drink a 1 microgram dose of [D10]phenanthrene at the study center and collect all of your urine afterwards for 6 hours. This amount of phenanthrene is small compared to what you are exposed to in daily life, and extremely small compared to what a current smoker is exposed to. We will repeat this procedure at on the 7 th day of the Brussels sprout intervention, right after you eat the sprouts that day. We will ask you not to eat or drink anything except water for at least 2 hours prior to and 1 hour after [D10]phenanthrene each time. We will also ask you to avoid high-fat foods after [D10]phenanthrene.

You will be asked to eat about 300 grams of raw Brussels sprouts at the study center once daily for 7 days in a row. However, we may allow you to eat the Brussels sprouts at home on the weekend. We will ask you not to eat or drink anything except water for 1 hours before and 1 hour after eating the vegetables.

Twice during the study period, we will ask you to collect ALL of your urine at home for 24 hours periods.

We will ask you to keep a diary of everything you eat and drink starting at the beginning of the study until the end. We will also ask you to keep track of your cigarette use during the study. 

Will I be compensated?

You will be compensated up to $200 for your time and transportation. 

What should I do if I'm interested? 

If you would like to find out if you qualify for this study, please call us at 612-624-5286 or email and leave your name and a contact number in your email or voicemail.

We are looking for...

Current or former smokers ages 18 years or older

Study Coordinator

If you would like to find out if you qualify for this study please call 612-624-5286 or e-mail


Tobacco Research Programs
717 Delaware St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Phone: 612-626-5155
Fax: 612-624-4610