Natural healing, natural wellness

Fight Breast Cancer With Cruciferous Vegetables

Green cabbage was very cheap at the supermarket nearby a few days ago so I bought two – one to make sauerkraut and the other for general eating (coleslaw, sauté, soup etc). I would have bought more had my fridge had the space. I couldn’t resist buying a nice head of purple cabbage too. I’ll use that as well as some green cabbage to make coleslaw. That night, we enjoyed a big plate of braised cabbage with onions and dried prawns. The vegetables had been cooked slowly to coax out the sweet flavors. Absolutely delicious!

It’s a good thing I like cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, as phytochemicals such as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and sulforaphane are components of cruciferous vegetables which exhibit antitumorigenic activity. In the digestive tract, indole-3-carbinol produces a metabolite (product of metabolism) called diindolylmethane (DIM), a new class of antiestrogens that inhibit breast cancer growth. DIM also encourages cells that are abnormally multiplying to stop reproducing and die.

Research shows that it is possible for the stronger and more dangerous form of estrogen (estradiol) to be converted into the weaker form (estriol) without using drugs. As all women who have had breast cancer know, estradiol fuels breast cancer. For this reason, aromatase inhibitor drugs (Ais) were invented to block the production of estrogen. Unfortunately, like most drugs, aromatase inhibitor drugs have serious side effects. Also, not all kinds of all estrogen are harmful. Estriol is a weaker and relatively harmless form of estrogen. Being less active than estradiol, it is desirable for it to occupy the estrogen receptor as, by doing so, it effectively blocks estradiol’s strong “grow” signals.

In 1997, researchers at Strang Cancer Research Laboratory at Rockefeller University discovered that diindolylmethane or DIM can change “strong” estrogen to “weak” estrogen and, when this happens, it stops human cancer cells from growing and provokes the cells to self-destruct, a process known as apoptosis. Subsequent studies done at the University of California at Berkeley show that DIM inhibits some human breast cancer cells from growing by as much as 90% in culture.

Apparently, DIM is the most active phytochemical in promoting the synthesis of protective hydroxylated estrogen (2OHE). Also known as 2-hydroxyestrone, 2OHE and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (16OHE) are metabolites of estrogens. 2OHE is biologically inactive, while 16OHE is biologically active meaning that, like estradiol, it can send “grow” signals. In cases of breast cancer, the ‘bad’ 16OHE is often elevated and the ‘good’ 2OHE is decreased. Studies show that people who take DIM not only have beneficial increases in estriol, they also have beneficial increases in 2OHE. Low levels of the 2OHE have been linked to breast cancer (in both women and men), uterine cancer, cervical cancer and lupus.

If you’ve had breast cancer, regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, green cabbage, collard greens and mustard greens is a very good idea. While cooking such vegetables, creating mild acidic conditions by adding some lemon juice or vinegar helps convert indole-3-carbinol (I3C) to the active cancer-fighting substance DIM. No wonder fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi are recommended cancer-fighting foods. Go ahead and indulge in these vegetables!

Write a comment