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Indole-3-Carbinols

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Indole-3-Carbinols

I3C offers protection against several types of cancer and it may actually stop the growth of existing tumours. While we should all eat our veggies for a wide variety of reasons, a growing body of evidence suggests that taking an I3C supplement is the most practical way of getting optimal levels of this vital nutrient.

The elder George Bush hates broccoli–and it’s his loss. Maybe presidents can be exempted from eating broccoli, but there are some excellent reasons why we can all benefit from the powerful health protection provided by this not-so-humble vegetable.

While broccoli and its cruciferous cousins, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi, are great sources of more than a dozen potent nutrients, recent research shows that one of the most powerful is a sulphur-containing compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C).

I3C offers protection against several types of cancer and it may actually stop the growth of existing tumours.

While we should all eat our veggies for a wide variety of reasons, a growing body of evidence suggests that taking an I3C supplement is the most practical way of getting optimal levels of this vital nutrient.

This is because a half-cup (125-mL) serving of broccoli only provides 24 milligrams of glucobrassicin, the chemicalcompound that transforms into I3C, and a similar serving of Brussels sprouts contains 104 mg.

Since 18 to 59 percent of the glucobrassacin is lost in cooking, you’d need to eat heaping servings of broccoli for breakfast, Brussels sprouts for lunch, cabbage for dinner, and snack on mustard greens and turnips all day long to get the 300 to 400 mg of I3C used in clinical trials for cancer prevention.

Since most of us don’t eat that way, nor should we, I3C supplementation is an easy answer. Fortunately, I3C supplements are available in health food stores and nutrition outlets everywhere.

Here’s a summary of the recent compelling research on I3C’s effects on cancer and precancerous conditions.

Estrogen-Related Cancers

The National Cancer Institutes says breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers are related to harmful types of estrogen common in perimenopausal women. I3C helps convert the dangerous 16OHE1 form of estrogen into a much more benign form called 20HE1, and may help prevent these types of cancer.

In a small study conducted at Louisiana State University in 2000, researchers found that 50 percent of patients diagnosed with precancerous lesions of the cervix were completely healed with 200 mg of I3C a day, while none of the patients who received a placebo had any change in their symptoms. A later study suggests that I3C also has a tumour-stopping effect.

Another study from Detroit’s Wayne State University shows that I3C causes the early death of breast cancer cells for those at risk and for those actually diagnosed with the disease.

I3C was also shown to completely destroy several different lines of ovarian cancer cells, according to a 2001 report to the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

This common sexually transmitted virus is an important risk factor for cervical cancer. Three small studies suggest that taking I3C supplements can cause the precancerous cervical lesions to disappear, possibly by helping boost immune system function and detoxifying the body of cancer-causing free radicals.

I3C has also been shown to be effective against respiratory papillomatosis, a cancer of the vocal cords that has been related to HPV.

Prostate Cancer

Studies show that I3C can neutralize harmful estrogens, but it affects testosterone and androsterone as well. I3C may protect against prostate cancer and it can kill existing prostate cancer cells.

Most I3C research has focused on breast cancer, but a new study from Wayne State University confirms that I3C acts virtually the same in both breast and prostate cancer. In the first report of its kind, I3C was recently shown to be able to stop the growth of prostate cancer, and cause the cancer cells to die.

Lung Cancer Caused by Cigarette Smoking

Studies on lung cancer indicate that I3C is a powerful weapon against DNA damage caused by cigarette smoke. Nitrosamines found in smoke are a major cause of lung cancer. In a study from New York University Medical Center, 13 female smokers took 400 mg of I3C for five days, and researchers measured the effects on a nitrosamine known as NNK. I3C partially neutralized this deadly carcinogen.

If you’re in agreement with George Bush Sr., and prefer to boycott the broccoli, remember that you can derive some of its most powerful benefits by supplementing with IC3. Check with your health care professional for advice on its proper use and dosage.

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