DIM, anti-cancer substances in cabbage

DIM (3,3′-di-indolylmethane) is a natural substance that is formed in the acidic environment of the stomach from indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound from cabbage, radish and daikon. A great deal of experimental research has now been conducted with indole-3-carbinol in relation to breast and prostate cancer. When taken orally, I3C is converted into active metabolites, mainly DIM. DIM is a promising natural indole compound with antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic and potential chemotherapeutic properties. Five clinical studies are currently planned with DIM, including in prostate and cervical cancer.
In the past decade, DIM has gained increasing attention due to its non-toxic anti-cancer properties. As a chemopreventive substance, DIM stimulates the detoxification of carcinogens from food and the environment. In addition, experimental research shows that DIM has the potential to be used as a chemotherapeutic agent as part of the treatment of cancer, especially breast, cervical and prostate cancer. Several clinical studies into the effect on prostate and cervical cancer are ongoing and should provide more clarity about the usefulness of DIM in the future.

Anticancer effect

Brassicas are rich in glucosinolates and their metabolites, including indoles and isothiocyanates. These compounds all have antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. Experimental research has shown that DIM is not toxic to normal, healthy cells and inhibits the growth of cancer cells (cytostatic) and can prevent metastases. Most research has been conducted on breast and prostate cancer cells.
DIM has been shown to be effective in vitro against hormone-dependent and hormone-independent breast and prostate cancer cells. On the one hand, mechanisms of action have been found that are hormone-dependent (estrogens or androgens), on the other hand, many anti-cancer mechanisms have been found that are independent of the influence of sex hormones. As a strong inhibitor of NF-kappaB, DIM has also proven effective in aggressive and difficult-to-treat (therapy-resistant) cancer types.
DIM disrupts several survival strategies of cancer cells, making these cells susceptible to programmed cell death (apoptosis). The following anti-cancer properties have been found for DIM:

Preventive effect

  • stimulation of the excretion of carcinogens
  • prevention of formation of carcinogenic substances, including carcinogenic metabolites of estrogen
  • anti-androgenic effect
  • prevention of tumor formation due to Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • cytostatic effect
  • prevention of cell division by inhibition of topoisomerase II
  • induction of apoptosis (cell death)
  • up-regulation of interferon-gamma
  • prevention of angiogenesis
  • Chemotherapy-enhancing effect
  • making cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy

DIM is obtained from indole-3-carbinol, a nutrient in cruciferous vegetables. DIM is apparently poorly absorbed from food. When DIM is included in a matrix of other nutrients such as phosphatidylcholine, absorption is significantly better.

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