When you eat vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, watercress, mustard greens, garden cress, horseradish, turnip, kohlrabi, and bok choi you are also taking in Glucosinolates found in each of these plants. The amount you ingest varies per plant and by the cooking process applied. For general consumption purposes the content of glucosinolates for raw vegetables can be calculated as follows:
Cauliflower 0.4 mg per gram of vegetable (~40g/cup)
Bok choi 0.5 mg per gram of vegetable
Kohlrabi 0.5 mg per gram of vegetable
Broccoli 0.6 mg per gram of vegetable (~42g/cup)
Red Cabbage 0.6 mg per gram of vegetable
Savoy Cabbage 0.8 mg per gram of vegetable
Turnip 0.9 mg per gram of vegetable
Watercress 0.9 mg per gram of vegetable
Kale 1.0 mg per gram of vegetable (~67g/cup)
Horseradish 1.6 mg per gram of vegetable
Brussels Sprouts 2.4 mg per gram of vegetable
Mustard Greens 2.8 mg per gram of vegetable
Garden Cress 3.9 mg per gram of vegetable
Now remember there exist many other health promoting substances in each of these plants so it is important to always consider the entire picture. For this discussion, we will just consider the process that fosters I3C and DIM. Here is how this particular process works.
When you start to chew raw kale, broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables, you release the glucosinolates stored inside the plant along with another natural plant substance called myrosinase. Myrosinase is an enzyme found in the plant’s cellular walls. Through your initial chewing and digestive process, these two substances combine, creating an enzymatic hydrolysis process, where Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is formed. Once I3C is formed, it further changes. During the digestive process, two I3C molecules with the aid of stomach acid connect together to further form something new, called DIM (diindolylmethane). Nature and our bodies are certainly wonderful! Through a complex and very human process we are freely provided unique chemical compounds that have exceptional cancer-curative properties.
These cancer-curative properties have been well documented through extensive research. Researchers at Berkley have shown I3C (1) has a direct interaction that kills prostate cancer cells, (2) lowers the production of PSA, and (3) reduces the spread of prostate cancer. Further research from Wayne State University School of Medicine supports these findings saying, ”there is ample evidence for the benefit of I3C and DIM for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer”.
In a 2001 study it was determined that I3C induced G1 cell cycle arrest leading to prostate cancer cell death along with regulating the genes that control cancer cell death. The researcher’s final determination was that “I3C may be an effective chemopreventive or therapeutic agent against prostate cancer”. This research was further expanded, and in 2004 research it was determined that I3C inhibits the pro-cancer activity of Akt and NF-κB that allow prostate cancer cells to grow unchecked. Through this process they believe the application of I3C makes cells more susceptible to the body’s natural cancer defenses and chemotherapeutic agents. Thus a new treatment approach was proposed using I3C in cases of hormone-dependent, hormone-independent, and metastatic prostate cancer to re-sensitize cancer cells so chemotherapeutic agents become more effective.
But is it I3C or DIM that is doing the job on cancer? Remember, I3C combines quickly to form DIM within the body. It is now believed that DIM adjusts the activity of metabolic enzymes and estrogen receptor molecules. We previously discussed ‘estrogen dominance’ in my new book, Release Prostate Cancer Now!, within the chapter titled Progesterone, Foundation Step #5. The action of DIM limits estrogen’s growth-promoting signals through reduction of the estrogen receptor system. Research regarding breast cancer has shown it works even better than the drug Tamoxifen at inhibiting oestrogen-receptive cancer cells and in turn limits prostate cancer cell growth through moderation of the natural cell cycle. In addition, DIM has been found to limit blood supply expansion, angiogenesis, to prostate tumors. A study published May, 2008 in the Biochemical Pharmacology Journal details how DIM reduces the blood flow to tumors thus limiting their food supply and preventing cancer’s growth. In another 2012 paper it describes how DIM inhibits HDAC enzyme activity in cancer cells thus up-regulating the P21 protein in prostate cancer cells, and at the same time down-regulating the HDAC2 protein, preventing new cancer cell growth, causing cancer cell death, and increased patient survival. Then there is the 2010 Study by Ohio State University Cancer Center that found I3C/DIM causes the destruction of the Cdc25A molecule which is essential for cancer cell division and proliferation.
Based on these studies and more, it appears I3C and DIM from cruciferous vegetables are very important to prevent and even potentially cure prostate cancer. Since 1990 there have been over 120 peer-reviewed studies showing the benefits of I3C, and DIM in relation to prostate, breast, and other cancers. It is interesting to note, an average Japanese diet naturally includes around 120 mgs of I3C per day through common vegetables, and the Japanese enjoy one of the highest life expectancies with exceptionally low rates of prostate cancer.
Could this cure everyone? Probably not, as there are over 100 types of prostate cancer, and cancer easily mutates to survive. The key, I believe, is to eat properly so prostate cancer is eradicated before it gains a foothold. This is when I3C and DIM are most powerful to eradicate prostate cancer before it starts to build and grow unchecked. In a 2009 study reasonably high consumption of cruciferous vegetables revealed a 32% decrease in prostate cancer incidence.
But what if you do have prostate cancer, or breast cancer? Research has shown excellent benefits from increasing your dosage of I3C and DIM. In a 2012 study men with prostate cancer who increased their cruciferous vegetable intake showed a 59% decrease of prostate cancer progression. To do this men consumed two or more large servings of cruciferous vegetables per week. And in another 2010 dose-dependent study of DIM with prostate cancer, one patient supplementing with 300mg of DIM for 18 months experienced a 90% drop in his PSA reading from 89.7 ng/ml to 9.4 ng/ml, while others experienced PSA drops, or term PSA stabilization. Additionally researchers with Florida A&M University have actually said they believe DIM is an effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer.
So you say, I eat kale, broccoli and cauliflower, why am I still having prostate problems? It could be because you’re literally cooking your vegetables to death. Let’s say you cook your vegetables by boiling, excessive steaming, or microwave. The process of high temperature cooking, and overheating your vegetables destroys the natural availability of the enzyme myrosinase. Therefore, with ineffective, dead myrosinase, less if any of the glucosinolates are converted into I3C. But if this happens, you may still obtain a limited amount of I3C through a bodily backup process. A healthy body can use native gut bacteria action to hydrolyze the glucosinolates into I3C, albeit much less effectively. And what happens if your gut is already compromised through cancer treatment? You guessed it; little to no glucosinolates are converted to I3C. And if this is the only way to create I3C, then of course further conversion to DIM is also negated.
Then too, when cooking your vegetables with water by boiling or steaming there is another important issue, that glucosinolates are water-soluble. They leech out of the vegetables into the cooking water reducing their content in the vegetables you eat by over 50%. Think back, how often do you just throw out the cooking water? So overcooking is a double-edged sword. You’re preventing I3C formation with the heat, and are throwing out the good stuff with the water. Because of this, eating your cruciferous vegetables raw, lightly sautéed, or very lightly cooked in soup, are the very best methods for getting the greatest anti-cancer results.
Eating raw and lightly cook cruciferous vegetables obviously has been proven to be an exceptional way to prevent cancer. But for those who have cancer, you may need something more. In addition to eating at least 4 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week, it is possible to supplement with I3C and DIM. Both are available online. For dosage, you will want to contact your trusted naturopath focused on cancer care, as there are some considerations and side effects to consider prior to starting supplementation. I believe ample research has been done both with I3C and DIM to warrant supplementation. Most researchers use the equivalent of 200 mg to 400 mg per day of I3C in their studies, or around 225 mg per day of DIM. It has also been found that DIM in its crystalline form is water insoluble, therefore very difficult to absorb. For this reason, should you decide to supplement with DIM, it is recommended to use a bio-enhanced micro encapsulated form. Some say Nature’s Way DIM-Plus may be a good choice though there are several others. Generally these supplements are well tolerated. The most common side effects when supplementing with I3C or DIM include diarrhea, and in some cases hyperglycemia. Ingesting excessive amounts of cruciferous vegetable have also been known to sometimes play havoc with your thyroid. So for these reasons, it is best to let your doctor know about your supplementation, and to obtain the proper medical tests before and while supplementing.
Should you be unable to find a naturopath skilled in the use of I3C within your immediate area, you may want to contact Dr. Neil McKiney. Located in Victoria, BC, he has written several books on natural cancer treatment, and often uses a prescription of 600 mg of I3C per day divided in two doses with his patients to inhibit androgen receptors and impede cancer’s transition to bones. Everyone’s body is different. Your situation will be unique, so contacting a medical professional in the know who can provide support is always worthwhile.