Vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, which is the second most common cancer after lung/breast cancer within Europe. Some putative protective phytochemicals are found in higher amounts in young sprouts than in mature plants. The effect of an extract of mixed cruciferous and legume sprouts on DNA damage induced by H(2)O(2) was measured in HT29 cells using single cell microgelelectrophoresis (comet). Significant antigenotoxic effect (P < or = 0.05) was observed when HT29 cells were pre-incubated with the extract (100 and 200 microL/mL) for 24 hours and then challenged with H(2)O(2). A parallel design intervention study was carried out on 10 male and 10 female healthy adult volunteers (mean age = 25.5 years) fed 113 g of cruciferous and legume sprouts daily for 14 days. The effect of the supplementation was measured on a range of parameters, including DNA damage in lymphocytes (comet), the activity of various detoxifying enzymes (glutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase), antioxidant status using the ferric reducing ability of plasma assay, plasma antioxidants (uric acid, ascorbic acid, and alpha-tocopherol), blood lipids, plasma levels of lutein, and lycopene. A significant antigenotoxic effect against H(2)O(2)-induced DNA damage was shown in peripheral blood lymphocytes of volunteers who consumed the supplemented diet when compared with the control diet (P = 0.04). No significant induction of detoxifying enzymes was observed during the study, neither were plasma antioxidant levels or activity altered. The results support the theory that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of cancer via decreased damage to DNA.