Denver - Design District - Alameda and Broadway
368 S Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
Cancer is on the rise, particularly sex hormone related varieties, such as breast and prostate. Most of us have been touched in some way by cancer and it is safe to say we all have a desire to avoid developing this devastating disease. Research is surfacing about the power of a natural substance in vegetables that may help lower your sex hormone related cancer risk. Vegetables you ask? YES – vegetables, but not just any kind of vegetable. The key compound I am talking about is called diindolylmethane (DIM for short) and is found in cruciferous vegetables. Besides helping balance hormones and reducing your risk of various types of cancer, DIM also provides antioxidant activity to prevent damage from free radicals in the body, supports weight loss, enhances energy, boosts mood, improves memory, supports strong bones and healthy joints, reduces PMS symptoms, helps balance estrogen dominance, improves cardiovascular health, increases healthy muscle development, and improves prostate health in men.1 2 Unfortunately, to get the maximum benefit from DIM you would have to eat close to 2 pounds of cruciferous vegetables a day. Luckily, you can get this powerhouse nutrient in a dietary supplement form.
Study upon study has proven that more vegetables in our diets reduce our risk of heart disease, strokes, cancer, and many other ailments. Many of these plant’s medicinal advantages can be attributed to phytonutrients (plant nutrients with health-promoting properties). Although DIM is just one of these phytonutrients, its functions are very specific and special. This compound supports a beneficial shift in the balance of the sex-hormones estrogen and testosterone, which is strongly associated with a lower cancer risk.3 These unique cancer-fighting benefits were first discovered about 20 years ago when broccoli was added to the diets of study animals. Broccoli was found to prevent certain forms of cancer, which established the “cruciferous connection.” To understand this action, one must understand estrogen, its role in the male and female body, how it is involved in cancer, and its metabolism.
Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate with your body and tell it to perform various functions. Estrogen and testosterone are called sex hormones because they facilitate the functions of the reproductive system. Although estrogen is identified with women and testosterone with men, both sexes have both hormones present in their bodies. Both hormones play a significant role in both sexes and serve a number of functions aside from their reproductive roles, which makes their balance critical to health.1 As the body ages, hormone production and balance changes, which contributes to multiple symptoms (such as weight gain, muscle loss, brittle bones, etc) as well as that “getting older” feeling.
There are presently 300 known functions for estrogen in the body and we are only beginning to understand all its interactions. For example, estrogen impacts the brain, heart, and liver.4 Therefore, healthy estrogen metabolism is of great importance. In the body, estrogen is metabolized into either 2- hydroxy, the “good” estrogen, or 16-hydroxy, the “bad” estrogen. The “good” estrogen are involved in beneficial functions throughout the body, such as protecting the heart and brain. The “bad” estrogen is responsible for many of estrogen’s undesirable actions, including weight gain and cancer in estrogenresponsive tissue.1 3 The “bad” estrogen act as an unregulated form of “super estrogen,” and often result in estrogen dominance and its related health problems.2 For example, it is known that women with breast and uterine cancer make too little of the “good” estrogen and too much of the “bad” variety.5
The connection between DIM and estrogen is due to their molecular similarities.6 In order for estrogen to be utilized in the body it must be metabolized. As noted above, estrogen can follow one of two metabolic pathways, creating either good or bad estrogen. Since DIM requires a metabolic pathway similar to that of good estrogen, supplementing the diet with DIM or eating cruciferous vegetables multiplies the chance for estrogen to be broken down into its beneficial form. Simply put, DIM stimulates the pathway that leads to “good” estrogen production and healthy hormone balance. 2 An active metabolism of estrogen in the “good” direction automatically pulls unmetabolized estrogen away from the “bad” pathway, actually lowering the production and levels of these harmful estrogens.1 2
DIM also impacts testosterone, which is an important contributor to healthy hormone balance in both men and women. This hormone is classified as an anabolic hormone due to its ability to promote protein synthesis. Active protein synthesis produces bigger muscles and stronger bones, especially in response to exercise, as well as increases metabolic rate and fat utilization. Testosterone also supports libido, interest in sex, and mood. However, testosterone exerts its actions differently depending on whether it is free or bound to carrier proteins in the blood. It is the free form that possesses all these desirable actions. DIM, through its effects on estrogen metabolism, supports testosterone by helping to maintain the level of free, or active, testosterone.1
Here are many of the ways that healthy estrogen metabolism can impact your life.
Pardon the cliché, but your Grandma was right – eat your vegetables (especially the cruciferous varieties)! For thousands of years, plants have been cultivated for their medicinal properties. For example, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recently reported that three “healthy portions” of vegetables daily cut the risk of prostate cancer by 48%.11 Cruciferous vegetables should be emphasized and include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, and turnip.
When you chew raw or lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables, plant enzymes (substances that start a reaction) are activated. This allows DIM to enter your body. If the enzyme reactions are lacking, the conversion into DIM might not happen. Thus, an absorbable form of pure DIM has been developed in a dietary supplement. The unique delivery system overcomes the need for active enzymes within the vegetable and chemical reactions in the stomach to produce DIM.2
It is recommended that women start taking a starting dose of about 15 mg of DIM per day and men about 30 mg per day. These amounts can increase three to four times on an individual basis to derive needed benefits for hormone balance and metabolism.2 Keep in mind since pure DIM must be provided in an absorption-enhancing formulation, the dose for DIM specifies the weight of the Absorbable Formulation, which is only one forth DIM. Therefore, a recommended dose from a supplement would look more like 100 to 200 mg per day for women and 200 to 400 mg for men. However, these dose suggestions correspond to actual DIM for women at 25 to 50 mg per day and 50 to 100 mg for men.2
As Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said so long ago, “let food be thy medicine and thy medicine food.” And to improve on the benefits of these powerful cruciferous foods, DIM supplementation is a natural approach to achieving a safer and healthier estrogen metabolism – along with all of its health benefits. Many of the benefits traditionally associated with estrogen are due to its healthy metabolism into 2-hydroxy. Since DIM is a natural promoter of this pathway, it is a natural way to get all the benefits out of “good” estrogen and reduce the negative side effects of the “bad.”