We all know vegetables are good for us, and most of us probably need to include more of them in our daily diet. Filled with fiber, phytochemicals, and micronutrients, eating a wide variety of plants is essential for our bodies’ overall health. One particular type of vegetable family, the cruciferous vegetable (ex: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli), stand out as exceptionally beneficial, especially when it comes to women’s health.
Cruciferous vegetables are well studied for their health benefits because they contain several unique disease-fighting compounds. Researchers have found that cruciferous vegetables have several health benefits, including reductions in inflammation, cardiovascular disease mortality, and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. Researchers suggest that it is the presence of certain chemicals in cruciferous vegetables that provide these health benefits. DIM, or Diindolylmethane, is one of these compounds. DIM is derived during the digestive process from a compound found in cruciferous vegetables called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), and it can be a powerful tool for women who suffer from hormone imbalances.
But even if you eat these veggies daily, the amount may not provide enough DIM to deliver a therapeutic dose. If you are interested in the benefits of DIM, a supplemental form can give a higher amount while also enhancing bioavailability.
How can DIM help with estrogen balance?
Estrogen exists in the body in multiple forms. We need estrogen for many reasons, including reproductive, cardiovascular, and bone health. But an imbalance of estrogen levels is associated with:
- Disruptions in menstrual cycles
- Mood swings
- Painful breasts
- Depression and anxiety
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Weight gain
Estrogen imbalance is also associated with certain types of cancer, including breast and cervical.
DIM helps support healthy estrogen levels through the balance of bad estrogen and good estrogen. DIM does not necessarily block estrogen, but it instead helps to shift away from the potential disease-causing estrogen towards the less potent forms of estrogen. DIM supplements help support estrogen metabolism, thereby supporting the ratio of good to bad estrogen.
2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE 1) is considered a good form of estrogen. Optimal levels of this form are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and even a healthy body fat percentage. It’s also considered an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of free radical damage in the body.
Higher levels of the bad form of estrogen, 16-alpha-hydroxy-estrone (16-OHE1), are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as weight gain. It’s not the presence of either of these types of estrogen that is a problem, but more likely it is the ratio that matters. If a woman has higher levels of bad estrogen, then the ratio is off. This ratio is associated both with breast cancer risk, as well as the symptoms of estrogen imbalance, as listed above. Women who suffer from hormonal acne may also benefit from DIM supplementation, although this is less documented in research.
DIM and Breast Cancer
The association between cancer risk and estrogen-sensitivity is well-documented. DIM may play a role in protection against breast cancer through a variety of mechanisms, but more thorough studies are needed:
- Upregulates the body’s natural detoxification pathways by stimulating the expression of the genes for detoxification enzymes. It can modulate receptors that signal for increasing and decreasing inflammation in the body.
- Inhibits the expression of human breast cancer cells.
- Affect multiple signaling pathways associated with cancer cells, including growth, and division.
- May downregulate the genetic expression of proteins that regulate the cell cycle, stopping the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
Does DIM have any side effects?
Before starting any supplements, you should always check in with your health care practitioner, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with hormone-sensitive cancer or condition. In general, DIM is recognized as safe for most people. Side effects can include headache, stomach upset, or a change in urine color due to metabolites. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid this supplement as well.
Eating a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables is a simple but incredibly important way to support your health and fight off disease. The specialized compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, especially DIM, can be used in therapeutic doses to support women’s health through hormone balance. DIM supplements are associated with improved estrogen levels in the body. If you suffer from symptoms of estrogen dominance, you may consider discussing DIM supplementation with your health care practitioner.
Our Recommended DIM Product:
CytoDim™ provides 100 mg per softgel of diindolylmethane (DIM), a compound that helps to support healthy estrogen metabolism.** Due to its crystalline structure, absorption of DIM is minimal when given orally. For this reason, DIM-Evail™ has been manufactured utilizing the proprietary Designs for Health Evail™ process, which improves the absorption of DIM. This process utilizes a proprietary blend of MCT oils, non-soy derived lecithin, and vitamin E without the use of potentially harmful surfactants.
Research tells us that a low level of the 2-hydroxyestrone and a high level of 16 alphahydroxyestrone are not desired. DIM works by helping to increase 2-hydroxyestrone and therefore improves the 2/16 hydroxyestrone ratio.**
 Liu, Xiaojiao, and Kezhen Lv. “Cruciferous Vegetables Intake Is Inversely Associated with Risk of Breast Cancer: A Meta-Analysis.” Breast (Edinburgh, Scotland) 22, no. 3 (June 2013): 309–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2012.07.013.
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 Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Haruyo Ichikawa. “Molecular Targets and Anticancer Potential of Indole-3-Carbinol and Its Derivatives.” Cell Cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 4, no. 9 (September 2005): 1201–15. https://doi.org/10.4161/cc.4.9.1993.
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 Patel, Seema, Ahmad Homaei, Akondi Butchi Raju, and Biswa Ranjan Meher. “Estrogen: The Necessary Evil for Human Health, and Ways to Tame It.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & Pharmacotherapie 102 (June 2018): 403–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.078.
 Thomson, Cynthia A., Emily Ho, and Meghan B. Strom. “Chemopreventive Properties of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Breast Cancer: Evidence from Experimental and Human Studies.” Nutrition Reviews 74, no. 7 (July 2016): 432–43. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuw010.
 Ruan, Xiangyan, Harald Seeger, Diethelm Wallwiener, Jens Huober, and Alfred O. Mueck. “The Ratio of the Estradiol Metabolites 2-Hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and 16α-Hydroxyestrone (16-OHE1) May Predict Breast Cancer Risk in Postmenopausal but Not in Premenopausal Women: Two Case-Control Studies.” Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics 291, no. 5 (May 2015): 1141–46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-014-3512-1.
 Ruan, et al. 2015
 Thomson, et al., 2016
 Riby, Jacques E., Ling Xue, Urmi Chatterji, Erik L. Bjeldanes, Gary L. Firestone, and Leonard F. Bjeldanes. “Activation and Potentiation of Interferon-Gamma Signaling by 3,3’-Diindolylmethane in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells.” Molecular Pharmacology 69, no. 2 (February 2006): 430–39. https://doi.org/10.1124/mol.105.017053.
 Thomson, et al., 2016
 Jin, Yucui. “3,3’-Diindolylmethane Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Growth via MiR-21-Mediated Cdc25A Degradation.” Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 358, no. 1–2 (December 2011): 345–54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11010-011-0985-0.