Broccoli Fights Breast Cancer
One out of every eight women in the U. S. develops breast cancer, making it the second leading cause of cancer for American women. Risk factors for breast cancer include heredity, use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, alcohol use and excessive body weight. New research shows that women who fall into the “high-risk” category may want to add broccoli to their diet.
It has been found that rates of breast cancer and other types of estrogen-related cancers are lower in countries that consume a diet high in vegetables. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a naturally occurring compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and kale.
A study from the University of California at Berkley found that I3C in broccoli and cabbage reduced the activity of an enzyme linked to rapidly advancing breast cancer. Diindolylmethane or DIM is a molecule present in indole-3-carbinol. Because further studies found that DIM remains active in the body and I3C does not, it has been concluded that DIM is the key ingredient in fighting breast cancer rather than I3C.
DIM affects cancer cells in many ways: it blocks the division of many varieties of cancer cells, it may halt the growth of blood vessels within tumors, and DIM may block cancerous cells from entering healthy tissue. Research published in the April 2009 edition of "Journal of Cell Physiology" showed a stoppage of growth and actual death of prostate cancer cells that were treated with DIM.
It has been shown that improper metabolism of the female hormone estrogen can cause oxidation, cell damage and encourage the growth of some types of breast cancer. Risk factors like obesity, a high-fat diet and diets low in Omega-3 fats have been linked to low levels of 2-hydroxy estrogen. Research has shown that DIM boosts the production of 2-hydroxy estrogen by as much as 75% and reduces levels of 16-hydroxy estrone by as much as 50% which creates a healthier balance between estrogen and estrone and thereby lowers breast cancer risks.
Cancer cells create a steady supply of blood through a process known as angiogenesis. A study reported in the May 2008 issue of Biochemical Pharmacology Journal was the first to show that DIM can stifle the process of angiogenesis, choking the supply of blood to tumors. In addition, it has been shown that DIM helps boost oxygen levels in tumors. This is important because tumors can only grow and thrive if depleted of oxygen.
DIM BENEFITS FOR MEN
Estrogen becomes a concern for aging men because more testosterone is converted into estrogen, which puts men at a higher risk for prostate cancer. DIM works to block some of this conversion of testosterone into estrogen. What’s more, greater levels of testosterone mean better retention of sexual function for aging men.
SOURCES OF DIM
As mentioned, DIM can be found in vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. DIM can also be found in the form of supplements, which are available through natural supplement websites and health food stores. DIM supplements are typically considered safe, although they can interact with certain prescription drugs. Do not take DIM if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and always consult a healthcare professional before starting a supplementary regimen.