Diindolylmethane is formed when indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is digested in the stomach. It is thought that I3C affects the metabolism (breakdown) of estrogen hormones in the body, increasing the levels of certain "good" estrogen compounds while decreasing the levels of "bad" estrogens. Also, I3C may act as an anti-estrogen and may inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer cells. It is likely that I3C also works in several other ways that are not fully understood.
It is often claimed that diindolylmethane works just like I3C, although research suggests that there may be important differences between the two compounds. For instance, some studies have suggested that diindolylmethane may have different effects on estrogen metabolism compared to I3C and that diindolylmethane may have both anti-estrogen and estrogen-like activity. Currently, there is much debate (mostly among manufacturers and patent holders of various diindolylmethane and I3C products) about which compound is best and whether diindolylmethane provides the same benefits as I3C.
Diindolylmethane Use in Children
It is not known if diindolylmethane supplementation is safe for children. As with many medications or supplements, children may be more sensitive to the effects and toxicities of diindolylmethane. Because diindolylmethane may affect hormones, it may have negative effects on developing children. A normal intake of diindolylmethane through dietary sources (vegetables) is considered to be safe for children.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed July 8, 2008.
Parkin DR, Malejka-Giganti D. Differences in the hepatic P450-dependent metabolism of estrogen and tamoxifen in response to treatment of rats with 3,3'-diindolylmethane and its parent compound indole-3-carbinol. Cancer Detect Prev 2004;28(1):72-9.
Bovee TF, Schoonen WG, Hamers AR, Bento MJ, Peijnenburg AA. Screening of synthetic and plant-derived compounds for (anti)estrogenic and (anti)androgenic activities. Anal Bioanal Chem 2008;390(4):1111-9. Epub 2008 Jan 11.
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