Friday, May 20, 2005

DIM, a Promise for Some Prostate Cancers

I found this one product which makes some interesting claims and contains one particular ingredient which I haven’t seen before. It’s called diindolylmethane, or DIM for short, and it’s supposed to slow the growth of prostate cancer. Apparently, a study at UC Berkley found that DIM reduces the growth of androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells. An androgen is basically any male hormone, like testosterone for example. Of course, it’s important to realize that not all prostate cancer cells are androgen-dependent. Basically, all that means is that these particular cancer cells need an androgen to grow so, since DIM is an androgen inhibitor, then these cancer cells can’t grow. When I looked at the abstract from the study at UC Berkley, I noticed that they saw no change in androgen-independent cancer cells, so DIM doesn’t exactly cure or stop all prostate cancer.

I have to admit that I do not know what proportion of prostate cancers are androgen-dependent, whether it’s 90%, 50%, 10%. If anyone can tell me, I’ll be very grateful, but in the meantime I’ll continue to look. But there’s another question which occurs to me. Either BPH or prostatitis is almost inevitable. Most men will eventually get one, the other, or both. Prostate cancer is nothing like that. I mean we’re talking about cancer here! Why would I take a supplement to treat cancer unless I actually have cancer? And why would I take a supplement to treat a special kind of cancer unless I know that I have cancer at all?

Let me give you an example. Anti-oxidants are big news; everyone knows that they help to prevent cancer. The way they help prevent cancer is by eliminating mutant “free radical” oxygen molecules which damage cells. But if you take too many antioxidants, they can actually become free radicals themselves, and so you’ve just made things worse. Now, I can’t find anything that says that a lot of DIM can be harmful, but remember that this is all really new research. COX-2 inhibitors were supposed to be safe, but we all know what happened with Vioxx. So I’ll hold off on my judgement for now.

It is worth noting that something called 13C, which is a precursor of DIM, does carry some risks. 13C becomes DIM in the body, and too much of it can cause toxicity and general bad news. There are a number of other compounds like 13C which are like DIM but don’t have the same support from scientific studies and carry possible side-effects. But remember that you get DIM in your diet from foods like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. So just eat your vegetables. You know that you should anyway, and who doesn’t love a side of cole slaw?


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