High Potency DIM
by Dr. Don Colbert
Have you ever wondered why men seem to be able to lose weight so much easier than women can? A typical guy, trying to lose his "spare tire" will simply lay off salty snacks, cut down on his fat intake, and - voila - 2 weeks later he's lost 10 pounds! Women's bodies on the other hand, seem to hang onto to every molecule of fat that passes the lips, refusing to budge, despite hours at the gym and weeks of calorie counting.
The reason for this unfair weight discrepancy is often a result of estrogen dominance, an imbalance of having too much estrogen with corresponding lower levels of progesterone. Not only does this imbalance lead to stubborn weight gain and obesity, estrogen dominance is related to breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers and cervical dysplasia - a precancerous condition marked by changes in the cells of the cervix.1
For too long, women have been told the only treatment for hormonally related health problems is additional hormones. PMS? Take the birth control pill. Hot flashes? Take hormone replacement therapy. No sex drive? Use progesterone cream. The answer isn't more hormones. The answer is the correct balance and metabolism of hormones; the answer is diindolylmethane, (die-indo-lil-meth-ane or DIM for short) a powerful nutrient found in broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables that has a direct effect on hormonal balance.2
Q. Does this mean eating broccoli eliminates estrogen dominance?
A. Well, not quite. Most people know that broccoli is a very nutritious vegetable. Researchers studying broccoli discovered that when the vegetable is chewed, plant enzymes are activated that create healthy compounds. While these compounds are too unstable to consistently provide health benefits, they lead to the release of diindolylmethane, a very stable compound.2
The researchers also discovered we'd have to eat at least two pounds of broccoli each and every day to get adequate amounts of DIM. Now, ongoing research has resulted in the development of stable pure DIM dietary supplements with special absorption enhancing formulas. These special DIM supplements can restore hormonal balance and eliminate the symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Q. What ARE the symptoms of estrogen dominance?
A. If you find yourself struggling with -
• Mood swings
• Feeling anxious
• Painful periods
• Sore breasts
• Hot flashes
• Night sweats
• Foggy thinking
• Low libido
• Problematic PMS, or
• Stubborn weight gain,
chances are, estrogen dominance is the culprit.1,2
Estrogen is an amazing hormone that delivers a message in the body, telling cells to grow and proliferate. Throughout our lives, estrogen has important and vital functions. It orchestrates menstruation from the time we reach puberty - all the way through menopause. Estrogen also helps keep our bones strong and our cholesterol levels low.3
Most of our estrogen is made in our ovaries - then sent on its way in our bloodstream where it comes into contact with every cell in the body. But only certain cells, those with estrogen receptors, will respond to its presence. Receptors are specialized proteins found on the cell's surface. They act like an
on-off switch for the activity that goes on in the cell.3
For example, during the menstrual cycle estrogen attaches to receptors on breast cells, signaling the cells to get ready for a possible pregnancy (this is the reason why breasts sometimes get sore and tender before a period).3 Once the estrogen delivers its signal, it leaves the receptor, re-enters the bloodstream, and travels to the liver - where it's broken down and eliminated in waste products.1-3
Q. How does estrogen dominance begin?
A. There are several ways imbalances can occur. One way is through exposure to estrogen mimics, or xenoestrogens. Certain chemicals in the environment from pesticides and plastics, soaps, emulsifiers, household cleaning products and even car exhaust look and act enough like natural estrogens that the body mistakenly accepts them as estrogen. They are fat soluble and pass through the skin easily and accumulate over time.1
Estrogen mimics can latch on to estrogen receptors located on the surface of breast and other hormonally-caused cancer cells, signaling the cancer cell to grow and divide, making the cancer spread. Estrogen mimics can also bind to estrogen receptors on healthy cells and send false signals. Others block the natural hormone and keep it from binding to its receptor - resulting in more estrogen circulating in the bloodstream.1,2
Estrogen dominance can also result from slow or sluggish estrogen metabolism. After estrogen completes its activity in the target cells, it returns to the bloodstream. From there it travels to the liver to be broken down or metabolized. However, if the rate of metabolism is too slow, an excess of unmetabolized estrogen is left to circulate in the body, causing estrogen dominance.2
Researchers have also discovered that estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, resulting in two very different kinds of metabolites. One pathway, the 2-hydroxy pathway, results in beneficial or "good" estrogen metabolites. These "good" estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream where they account for many of the benefits of estrogen, including the prevention of heart disease and strong, healthy bones. The 2-hydroxy metabolites also have the power to get rid of damaged or cancerous cells throughout the body.2
Where there's a "good" of something, there most often is a "bad" of it as well. And there is indeed, a "bad" estrogen metabolism pathway - the 1 6-hydroxy pathway. The estrogen metabolites that result from this pathway - the 16- hydroxy estrogen metabolites - behave "badly" in our bodies. Greater production of "bad" estrogen metabolites can result in estrogen dominance and are linked to many health problems, including:
• Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Breast cancer
• Cervical dysplasia
• Clinical depression
• Fibroid tumors
• Magnesium deficiency
• Ovarian cancer
• Uterine cancer
• Zinc deficiency.1,2,4-9
Q. If estrogen dominance comes from too much estrogen and not enough progesterone why not just take more progesterone?
A. Because taking more progesterone won't necessarily restore hormonal balance. A treatment that's currently quite popular for estrogen dominance is progesterone cream. Some women report relief of milder hormonal imbalance symptoms using this cream. However, there's no real way to tell how much progesterone you're getting. I believe in giving hormones, but you must use a good practitioner that can check your levels with lab tests to see exactly how much you need. If women have too much progesterone, including additional progesterone from skin cream, it can be metabolized to estrogen. The result is even greater hormonal imbalance and continued estrogen dominance.1
Q. So how does DIM help?
A. It's really pretty simple. DIM improves hormonal balance and eliminates estrogen dominance by shifting the way that estrogen is metabolized in the body. In other words, taking DIM results in more of the "good" estrogen metabolites and less of the "bad" estrogen metabolites. While DIM doesn't increase or decrease estrogen levels - it directs how it is metabolized. It effectively decreases and eliminates estrogen dominance which helps to restore hormone balance.2,11
Q. Have there been any studies of diindolylmethane and cancer?
A. Two large studies examined the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16- alphahydroxyestrone and subsequent development of breast cancer. Urine samples of thousands of women were obtained and then stored for periods of up to 19 years. Incidences of breast cancer in the women were then recorded. Examination of the stored urine samples revealed that women who subsequently developed breast cancer had a lower ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone at baseline than women who remained cancer free.4,5 And three smaller, short term prospective studies also determined that higher levels of 16- alpha-hydroxyestrone were strongly associated with breast cancer
Many impressive studies have led to our understanding of DIM's effect on cancer. Scientists have determined that diindolylmethane actually inhibits growth of cancer cells.11
Diindolylmethane has also been shown to enhance the activity of enzymes found in certain pathways in the liver. These enzymes are important for healthy estrogen metabolism that reduces the risk of cancer development.12,13
Q. How much DIM should I take?
A. Read the label of the DIM product. Make sure you're getting 240 mg of DIM COMPLEX, standardized to 25% DIM per 2 capsules. Since DIM is very hard to absorb, it needs to be in a specialized complex to improve bioavailability; it can not be plain DIM without the complex. Higher milligram formulas will not absorb as well as the complex. Most women need only one-half this amount of DIM a day. However, women suffering with lots of estrogen dominance symptoms may find even more relief by taking 120 mg of DIM twice a day.2
Q. Is DIM safe?
A. Supplemental diindolylmethane has been taken for many years without any reports of adverse effects. And research of DIM's safety has shown no harmful effects in doses at hundreds of times the amount provided in supplements. However, some women may have some minor stomach upset. Taking DIM with food often eliminates this problem. You might also notice some harmless changes in the color of your urine. These changes can happen when you eat large amounts of asparagus and broccoli, too. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day often solves the problem.2
Adding more hormones to treat estrogen dominance is like feeding the cancer
fire! If you have estrogen dominance you don't need more hormone imbalance. What you do need is restoration of your hormonal balance. And for that, you
need the powerful all-natural supplement DIM.
1. Lucille H. Assessing the underlying cause. In: Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman's Guide to Safe, Natural, Hormone Health. Boulder, CO; IMPAKT Health, 2004: 15-25.
2. Zeligs M. DIM for women - achieving optimal estrogen metabolism. In: All
About DIM. New York, NY: Avery Books, 1999: 29-44.
3. Porth CM. Female reproductive system. In: Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States.5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott; 2002: 983-994.
4. Muti P, Bradlow HL, Micheli A, et al. Estrogen metabolism and risk of breast
cancer: a prospective study of the 2:16alpha-hydroxyestrone ratio in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Epidemiology. 2000;1 1:635-640.
5. Meilahn EN, De Stavola B, Allen DS, et al. Do urinary oestrogen metabolites
predict breast cancer? Guernsey III cohort follow-up. Br J Cancer. 1998;78:1 250-1255.
6. Kabat GC, Chang CJ, Sparano JA, et al. Urinary estrogen metabolites and breast cancer: a case control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1 997;6:505-509.
7. Key TJ, Wang DY, Brown JB, et al. A prospective study of urinary oestrogen excretion and breast cancer risk. Br J Cancer. 1 996;73:1615-1619.
8. Lord RS, Bongiovanni B, Bralley JA. Estrogen metabolism and the diet-cancer connection: rationale for assessing the ratio of urinary hydroxylated estrogen metabolites. Altern Med Rev. 2002 Apr;7(2):1 12-29.
9. Lewis JS, Thomas TJ, Klinge CM, Gallo MA, Thomas T. Regulation of cell cycle and cyclins by 16alpha-hydroxyestrone in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. J Mol Endocrinol. 2001 Dec;27(3):293-307.
10. Fowke JH, Longcope C, Hebert JR. Brassica vegetable consumption shifts estrogen metabolism in healthy postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Aug;9(8) :773-9.
11. Chang YC, Riby J, Chang GH, Peng BC, Firestone G, Bjeldanes LF. Cytostatic and antiestrogenic effects of 2-(indol-3-ylmethyl)-3,3'-diindolylmethane, a major in vivo product of dietary indole-3- carbinol. Biochem Pharmacol. 1 999;58:825-834.
12. Ge X, Yannai S, Rennert G, Gruener N, Fares FA.. 3,3'-Diindolylmethane induces apoptosis in human cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1996;228:153-1 58.
13. Riby JE, Chang GH, Firestone GL, Bjeldanes LF. Ligand-independent activation of estrogen receptor function by 3,3'-diindolylmethane in human breast cancer cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 2000;15:167-177.