Healthy food and disease prevention go hand-in-hand, but a University of Arizona researcher will study a connection between broccoli and skin cancer that's only skin deep.

It's already been found, through testing at John's Hopkins University, that a compound in broccoli sprouts can prevent cancer from exposure to UVB rays. The study applied that compound, called sulforaphane, topically to skin of mice.

The UA, specifically pharmacology researcher Sally Dickinson, will test the compound on human skin when exposed to sunlight.

“The difference between our study and the John’s Hopkins study is that we’re using solar-simulated light, instead of UVB," she said. "UVB is just looking at one part of the UV spectrum, as opposed to solar-simulated light that looks at the whole spectrum."

Dickinson hopes to advance the knowledge of sulforphane's affects, so it can be more widely used if it is a proven cancer prevention tool.

”What we’d love to do is someday make a cream that people could use -not in place of sunscreen, because we still think sunscreen is really important — but maybe add to sunscreen or use after their sunscreen to get the protective effects of sulforaphane," she said.

But Dickinson advises people to avoid applying broccoli, or broccoli sprouts, directly to their skin. The cells need to be crushed to activate the compound, she said. Also, because studies are ongoing, dosage and application specifics have not yet been determined.