First of all, what is DIM or diindolylmethane? Now you know why they call it DIM for short. DIM supplements are composed of a natural compound that forms from the digestion and breakdown of indole-3-carbinole (I3C) found in vegetables containing glucobrassicin. These are commonly known as cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Now you would need to eat significant quantities of these cruciferous vegetables to obtain the health benefits seen in studies.
DIM is believed to have potential cancer fighting properties. The National Cancer Institute’s own definition states that DIM supplements have potential antiandrogenic and antineoplastic activity. The reported mechanism of action responsible for the protective benefits has to do with how this compound affects estrogen metabolism in women and men alike. It does this by decreasing the amount of 16-hydroxy estrogen metabolite (bad estrogen) and increasing 2-hydroxy estrogen metabolites (good estrogen). This results in higher antioxidant activity. This can provide protective benefits to women against breast cancer and men against prostate cancer. Numerous studies have been conducted on DIM to look at its potential in the fight against breast cancer. The National Institutes of Health is one such agency studying this supplement. One of the most exciting studies currently going on was presented at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition in 2012. Dr. Mandip Sachdeva, PhD, one of the study’s authors, from Florida A&M University stated that DIM was showing promise in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. This is a very aggressive and hard to treat form of the disease. Other studies are showing promise as well and have been completed or are ongoing.
So does it matter if you take DIM supplements or I3C? Both are readily available supplements you can purchase over the counter. The answer to this is, yes it does matter. I would not recommend taking I3C as it is not as stable or as safe as DIM. I3C has not been shown to have the same estrogen receptor blocking benefits that have been seen in studies using DIM. DIM is not estrogenic. There are several studies awaiting publication showing statistically significant benefits in the use of DIM for those with not only wanting to prevent breast cancer or in the treatment there of, but also in the treatment of recurrent breast pain and those with a history cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. A respected cancer researcher, Dr. Karen Auborn stated that DIM is an effective inducer of apoptosis or cancer cell death. I3C did not show this benefit and in fact may have deleterious effects and can increase bad estrogen and good estrogen equally thereby negating any benefit.
Given the promising findings seen with DIM, it might be worth considering adding this to your daily supplement regimen. The recommended dose is 100-200mg for women and 200-400mg for men of a highly absorbable form of DIM daily. This is three times the recommended dietary intake of consuming cruciferous vegetables. Living in a world where we are exposed to xenoestrogen compounds, this may be one form of protection you may not want to live without.