Many of patients are menopausal women and men older than 50. This is the age group where mid-life hormonal shifts and changes can become problematic and set the stage for the onset of future health problems, like breast cancer, uterine cancer and prostate cancer, if left unchecked. The problematic hormone that can get out of whack at this time is largely estrogen as “bad estrogens” can predominate which allow dangerous oxidation to occur that damages DNA. However, as I tell my patients, nature has given us a near miracle phytonutrient to reverse this process – DIM, short for Diindolyl Methane, and I’d like to tell you about it.
DIM – The Miracle Phytonutrient You May Be Missing
If you eat several servings of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, on a regular basis you likely get enough of DIM. Cruciferous vegetables like these are nature’s carriers of DIM, an important phytonutrient that has been proven in numerous studies over the last decade to have amazing hormone-balancing and even anti-aging and anti-cancer properties. Deficiencies in DIM are thought to be behind the rise in hormone-driven cancers like those of the breast, uterine and prostate; colon cancer, and even coronary artery disease as too much estrogen can increase the risk for hardening of the coronary arteries and the decreased ability to dissolve blood clots.
DIM has the capacity to regulate and balance estrogen metabolism and neutralize “bad” estrogen metabolites and promote “good” 2-hydroxy estrogen metabolites that have been shown in research to be protective against breast cancer, as well as other types, in both women and men. In addition high animal fat diets and deficiencies of Omega 3 fatty acids also correspond to low levels of these good, cancer-fighting estrogen metabolites.
Recent research has made an even more important connection with prostate cancer and these bad estrogens. It is thought now that prostate cancer is likely more driven both by a man’s age-related decrease of testosterone and rise of these bad estrogen levels. Yes, men carry estrogen too and it can start to be the dominant hormone when testosterone starts falling. Estrogens, specifically the active estradiol type, has been shown to drive up PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels as much as testosterone. Another of DIM’s good estrogen metabolites, 2-methoxyestradiol, was shown in studies to inhibit this increase of PSA. Regular intake of DIM would protect against rising PSA.
Early research with DIM in animals showed that chemically-induced cancers were prevented by supplementation with DIM. These studies also showed that the addition of DIM supported “selective apoptosis”, i.e., the natural, programmed cell death which removes damaged cells. In humans, 500 grams (about 2-1/2 cups) of broccoli, a high DIM content food, was shown to increase good, 2-hydroxy estrogen metabolites in urine.
DIM, however, is not a “phytoestrogen”, like soy and other estrogen-mimic vegetables and compounds. It has no estrogenic activity which makes it ideal for a man over 50 in andropause to help protect against prostate and colon cancer. Similarly, postmenopausal women, fearful of taking traditional HRT because of its documented side effects, can supplement with DIM without worry. In fact, new studies out of Italy show that a woman may be much better off using DHEA instead of HRT as it has been found to protect breast and uterine tissues from cancer growth. Adding DIM to augment DHEA can further serve in the protection against breast cancer in the majority of women.
DIM has also been shown in research studies to be heart protective as well as it inhibits “lipoprotein oxidation”, i.e., which precedes the formation of dangerous, hardened plaques on arterial walls. DIM’s two good estrogen metabolites, 2-hydroxy and 2-methoxyl estrogens are powerful antioxidants that prevent this oxidation from taking place.
Other health benefits of DIM include an aid to fat loss, especially in over-50 age men whose testosterone levels are decreasing, but also in estrogen-dominant perimenopausal women who may be lacking progesterone. Estrogen imbalance can store fat around the middle and also cause water retention. Because DIM decreases estrogen levels in men, it has the effect of releasing more free testosterone which can lead to increased libido.
How Can You Add More DIM To Your Diet
As I mentioned above, cruciferous vegetables are the food source of DIM, but there are also other foods and nutrients that can help boost DIM. These include the following:
- Cruciferous (Brassica) vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, wasabi, watercress. Get at least 500 grams, or about 2-1/2 cups (100 grams equals ½ cup) per day. *Note: If you take thyroid medication, be sure to eat these vegetables steamed which disables the goitrogen compounds in these vegetables that interrupt thyroid hormone production. Take thyroid medication in the morning 1 hour before eating.
- DIM supplementation: Men can take between 100-150 mg per day; women should start with half, 50-75 mg a day. *Note: If you take thyroid medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist about taking DIM supplements as they may interfere with the absorption of your thyroid medication.
DIM has been shown in research to be beneficial to the prevention of many estrogen-imbalance disease states in both men and women. Ask your healthcare professional about using DIM to augment DHEA’s alternative HRT, anti-aging properties. In addition, if you take thyroid medication, be sure to ask them if DIM will interfere with its absorption.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News