By Li Zheng
Cruciferous vegetables have been widely used in preventing cancer diets. The important ingredient in cruciferous vegetables is called I3C. I3C is acid-catalyzed in the stomach into diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM is believed to be the active beneficial constituent in the I3C of cruciferous vegetables. Both I3C and DIM induce biochemical pathways to metabolize potential carcinogens. I3C has been shown to decrease the proliferation of numerous forms of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, and leukemia.
Animal studies have shown that long-term administration of I3C decreased spontaneous breast tumor development by 50 percent and endometrial tumors by 24 percent. Additionally, animal models show that supplementation with I3C prior to exposure to a known carcinogen decreased the development of breast tumors by 70-90 percent. Studies on human breast cancer cell lines show that DIM inhibits the growth of both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent cancer cells by approximately 60 percent. This study also showed that DIM binds to the estrogen receptors in these cells, inhibiting the binding of estradiol, the bad estrogen, with the estrogen receptors. Other evidence shows that I3C decreases both the growth of blood supply to cancer cells and the spread of the cancerous cells locally and that it protects the liver from carcinogens.
Another interesting property of DIM is that it exhibits anti-androgenic activity. Research shows that DIM inhibits dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from binding to androgen receptors in androgen-dependent human prostate cancer cells, decreasing the induction of DNA synthesis. DIM also decreased levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). This protein is frequently measured to evaluate prostate cancer risk. Additional research has shown that DIM induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells as well as by regulating several genes.
Resveratrol is a natural polyphenol found in high concentrations in red grape skins, berries, and peanuts. It is found in high concentrations of red wine and red grape juice. Resveratrol is widely studied due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and anti-aging properties. Studies with resveratrol indicate that this polyphenol inhibits the activity of aromatase in breast cancer cells, a particularly important fact considering aromatase is expressed at a higher level in breast cancer tissue than in surrounding healthy tissue. In fact, resveratrol inhibits the conversion of estrogen from testosterone and decreases the synthesis of the aromatase enzyme, thus indicating that it may support the health of individuals concerned about breast cancer.
Research also shows that red wine extracts reversed aromatase-induced increased tissue size and other neoplastic changes in breast tissue. In conclusion, resveratrol decreases tumor initiation, promotion, and progression, and induces apoptosis in many types of cancer cells. This does not mean we should drink more wine because alcohol can also enhance the activity of aromatase and damage the liver and brain function. Eating red grapes is a much better choice than drinking wine.
Cruciferous vegetables have a lot of fibers. We need a good digestive system to absorb valuable nutrients. Acupuncture can help improve the function of the digestive system, so we can digest those vegetables more efficiently. We also need to see how much we can eat those vegetables, too many good things may not be good for the body. Cooked cruciferous vegetables are much easier to be digested than raw ones.
Dr. Li Zheng, Ph.D. is a licensed acupuncturist & herbalist with a Ph.D. in medical science. A graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine who practiced as a physician in China, she has 26 years of experience. In addition, she is also a professor and clinical supervisor of the New England School of Acupuncture, a consultant for Health Grid Inc., and the author of two books, “Acupuncture and Hormone Balance” and “Chinese Acupuncture and Herbs for Common Diseases”. Her website is https://www.bostonchineseacupuncture.org.