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How Does Diindolylmethane Work?

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.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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