While the pharmaceutical industry is constantly putting more and more pills on the world market to combat diseases of civilization, nature continues to amaze researchers with the healing power of plant-based foods. For example, the power substance diindolylmethane (DIM) contained in cabbage is said to kill even breast cancer cells. Consumed regularly or as a dietary supplement, DIM not only combats hormone-dependent cancers, but also regulates hormone-related disorders such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms and prostate problems.
Autor: Dr. med. W. Tönnes
DIM – cabbage vegetables for cancer prevention
Abundant consumption of vegetables has long been considered a natural weapon for cancer prevention. In particular, cabbage vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower should be served up as often as possible. But what actually makes these cruciferous vegetables so healthy?
In addition to the cancer-inhibiting plant pigment chlorophyll, with which the green vegetables score points, another health booster is added to the plate: diindolylmethane (DIM).
This potent antioxidant is produced in the body during digestion of the mustard oil indole-3-carbinol, an active ingredient from the group of sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. If cabbage vegetables are eaten regularly, DIM makes itself strong against free radicals and thus provides natural protection against cell damage.
The conversion of indole-3-carbinol to DIM during the digestion of cabbage vegetables also leads to the inhibition of two proteins associated with the development of cancer.
DIM – Active against cancer
As the American Association for Cancer Research reported in a press release, the spread of cancer cells is reduced by up to 80 percent when treated directly with DIM. DIM thus appears to be able to halt the progression of cancer.
A research team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York believes DIM has particular strength in preventing and treating breast and prostate cancer, according to related studies.
DIM stops cancer growth
It is assumed that DIM inhibits the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). However, malignant tumors in particular initiate the formation of new blood vessels. Through these blood vessels, they are then supplied exclusively by the body with all the nutrients and vital substances they need to grow and spread as quickly as possible. By restricting the formation of these blood vessels, DIM also prevents tumors from growing and thriving.
In addition, DIM is thought to support estrogen metabolism. Estrogen balance has a critical impact on the development of certain hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer, according to Michael Zeligs and Scott Connelly, authors of the book “All about DIM.” The two scientists attribute the anti-cancer effect of DIM to its regulatory properties with regard to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
DIM regulates hormone balance
When estrogens are broken down in the body, both beneficial and harmful metabolic intermediates (metabolites) are formed. DIM promotes the formation of beneficial estrogen metabolites, which have beneficial antioxidant properties. At the same time, DIM reduces potentially harmful estrogen metabolites, which are considered risk factors for obesity, breast cancer and uterine cancer.
Symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which include mood swings, breast pain and lack of sex drive, are also associated with excess harmful estrogen metabolites or estrogen dominance.
DIM averts breast cancer risk
A study presented in October 2012 at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists AAPS pharmaceutical meeting in Chicago presented DIM as a potential anticancer agent. The concentrated active ingredient from cabbage vegetables is even said to be able to take on one of the most aggressive breast cancers, known as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
These findings are particularly encouraging in cancer research because effective treatment of spreading, aggressive breast cancers such as TNBC is extremely limited and accompanied by side effects.
As early as 2004, an American breast cancer study – published in Nutrition and Cancer – confirmed that the active ingredient DIM protects against hormone-dependent cancers by regulating estrogen balance and counteracting estrogen dominance.
Nineteen female subjects with early-stage breast cancer took 108 mg of DIM daily in supplement form over a 30-day period. Urine tests showed a reduction in cancer-inducing 2-hydroxylated estrogens by DIM in all participants.
DIM against estrogen-like environmental toxins
However, estrogen dominance not only increases the risk of cancer in women, but can also be dangerous for men. Both women and men are confronted with so-called xenoestrogens, i.e. estrogen-like chemicals from the environment such as pesticides and synthetic hormones.
Who would have thought that the average estrogen level in 54-year-old men is higher than in average 59-year-old women? In men, this unnatural estrogen dominance can lead to prostate changes.
DIM, however, can help the body eliminate dangerous estrogens from environmental toxins. Those who regularly eat organic, untreated cabbage vegetables or take DIM as a dietary supplement are thus making themselves strong against cancer-causing environmental toxins. In this way, estrogen metabolism can be influenced in such a way that significantly fewer of the harmful estrogen metabolites are produced and the undesirable estrogen dominance is counteracted.
DIM alleviates menopausal symptoms
As a bioactive, hormone-regulating indole, DIM is also considered a promising natural remedy for menopausal symptoms.
Menopausal women often suffer from symptoms of hormonal imbalances typical in this phase, such as breast pain, hot flashes, restlessness, sleep disturbances and mood swings.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can artificially regulate hormone deficiencies in women as they age and thus correct estrogen deficiency-related symptoms. However, what initially sounds like a gain in terms of quality of life should be taken with a grain of salt.
It is true that gynecologists endeavor to prescribe their patients the lowest possible dose that is appropriate to their needs and individually tolerated. Nevertheless, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of an estrogen surplus with all its potential adverse health consequences.
In fact, hormone replacement therapy increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer or uterine cancer as well as suffering a stroke or heart attack.
This was the conclusion of a WHI (Women’s Health Initiative) study in 2002, in which the rate of disease among the participating women increased so significantly as a result of treatment with artificial estrogens and progestins that the study had to be discontinued.
DIM accompanies hormone replacement therapy
If menopausal women nevertheless decide to take hormone replacement therapy, DIM can minimize the health risks associated with possible estrogen dominance. Naturopaths recommend taking at least 100 mg of DIM daily. However, the specific dose should be discussed in consultation with an appropriate therapist.
DIM not only optimizes estrogen metabolism and minimizes carcinogenic intermediates. A well-functioning hormone metabolism also shrinks fat deposits, because hormones tip the scales in sugar and fat metabolism. A balanced hormone level regulates, among other things, the feeling of hunger. Therefore, let the pounds fall with broccoli, cauliflower and other DIM-rich cabbage vegetables!
DIM is sensitive to heat – therefore eat cabbage vegetables as raw as possible
It is best to integrate cabbage vegetables into your diet several times a week and thus equip yourself tastefully against hormone-related ailments and estrogen-like environmental toxins.
In order to benefit from the full effect, it is important to eat cabbage vegetables as raw as possible. If the vegetables are cooked, the content of the heat-sensitive raw material indole-3-carbinol is reduced by about half, and DIM as a final product can be utilized by our body to a correspondingly lesser extent.
Do the taste test: Cut into small pieces or grated as a salad or finger food with a tasty dip, cabbage vegetables can be creatively presented.
Note on health topics
This information is provided in good faith. It is intended exclusively for interested parties and for further education and is in no way to be understood as diagnostic or therapeutic instructions. We accept no liability for damages of any kind arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information. In case of suspected illnesses, please consult your doctor.
- Megan Ashton, “Diindolylmethane Benefits.” Livestrong.com, 03.2011
- N.N., “Vegetable-Derived Compound Effective in Treating Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, Research Suggests.” ScienceDaily.com, 10.2012
- Marie J., “Diindolylmethane & Breast Cancer.” Livestrong.com, 01.2011
- N.N., “Diet and Lifestyle: In the Cancer Fight, Eating Well is the Best Revenge.” American Association for Cancer Research, 04.2007
- N.N., “Study Reveals Vegetable-Derived Compounds Effective in Treating Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.” AAPS 10.2012
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- Dalessandri KM, et al., “Pilot study: effect of 3,3`-diindolylmethane supplements on urinary hormone metabolites in postmenopausal women with a history of early-stage breast cancer..” Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-7.
- Dalessandri KM, et al., “Diindolylmethane.” Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 08.2013 (Diindolylmethan)
- N.N., “Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women.” JAMA, 07.2002