Eat your vegetables has been a command at the dinner table from parents to their children for many years. Well it seems that science is now able to back up Mom’s threats with research based findings.
Over the years, various studies have suggested that people who regularly consume cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, bok choy, etc.) have lower rates of many cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. Researchers have investigated cruciferous vegetables in an attempt to identify the active agent(s) that account for this cancer-protective effect. As it turns out, cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they contain compounds called sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Both of these natural agents enhance the body’s ability to detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, but indole-3-carbinol in particular exhibits other impressive anti-cancer effects that should be recognized.
Experiments show that indole-3-carbinol and its by-products not only stop the growth of certain types of cancer cells, but also trigger them to die. This is an important mechanism by which the indole-3-carbinol is thought to lower the risk of cancer.
So, in addition to speeding up the body’s ability to neutralize (detoxify) and eliminate cancer-causing chemicals, indole-3-carbinol also appears to help ensure that any emerging cancer cells die before they can become a threat to the body. Research suggests supplementation with indole-3-carbinol also reverses cervical dysplasia and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (tumor), two precancerous conditions that occur in women, in a high percentage of cases. Another study showed that indole-3-carbinol supplementation reversed respiratory papillomas as well.
In addition to these impressive cancer-fighting capabilities, indole-3-carbinol also helps prevent the buildup of the form of estrogen that is linked to breast and uterine cancers. Researchers have identified that when a woman’s body makes more of one form of estrogen (16-OH estrone) and less of another form (2-OH estrone), her risk of reproductive organ cancer is greater. Indole-3-carbinol promotes the conversion of estrone to 2-OH estrone, the form of estrone that is safer and less potent, and reduces the buildup of the dangerous 16-OH estrone.
Indole-3-carbinol may be one of the most powerful cancer-fighting nutrients ever identified. Studies suggest optimal benefits from this important compound are derived when you consume broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or some combination of cruciferous vegetables at least four to five times per week. In addition, studies say to consider indole-3-carbinol supplementation to further optimize the cancer defenses on a daily basis. Talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk of developing cancer and other diseases through the proven power of nutrition.