The Breast Cancer Society of Canada predicts that in 2014, 24,000 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 5,000 will die from it. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women and ongoing research is still doing its best to identify causes and discover new and effective treatment methods.

Among the naturally occurring chemicals demonstrated to be extremely useful in preventing breast cancer is something called Diindolylmethane otherwise known as “DIM” for short. Whenever we partake in the deliciousness of Brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale or chard (for example), we consume small quantities of a natural chemical called indole-3-carbinol or I3C. I3C is then partially converted to DIM in the presence of stomach acid. In addition to making the brassica family of vegetables a dietary staple for you and your family, supplemental DIM is also widely available in Canada and contains significantly more DIM than what could be eaten in a typical day.

There is an abundance of increasing evidence that supports a link between estrogen metabolism and cancer and that our metabolism of different kinds of estrogens in the body can be affected by dietary nutrients such as DIM. The anti-cancer effects of DIM have been observed in many cancer lines, but most notably breast cancer and other estrogen-dependent cancers; as well as prostate cancer. While the list of anti-cancer effects of DIM is quite long, the quick version suggests that DIM demonstrates cancer-cell death and inhibition of estrogen receptor-alpha expression and estrogen signalling. DIM also increases the production of liver enzymes responsible for phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification which includes the removal of harmful cancer-causing estrogens. For those of you reading this who would like more information we’d be happy to provide you with dozens of peer-reviewed references to sink your teeth into.

DIM would be part of any breast-cancer prevention strategy, along with a healthy diet abundant in brassica vegetables, and low in hormone laden food such as conventional beef and dairy – opt for organic alternatives instead or limit intake. Aversion from bisphenol-A containing plastics and actively promoting healthy liver function would also be on the top of our to-do list. Pump up the vitamin D, keep your diet rich in anti-oxidants, keep stress under control and limit estrogen exposure (a topic for another day). While it is likely that the causes of breast cancer are multi-factorial, so too are the strategies used to prevent it.

For more information on cancer prevention strategies or DIM specifically, please visit us. Our passion lies in improving the health of our community and we’re only ever happy to help!