(RxWiki News) You know that vegetables are good for you. And cruciferous vegetables - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts - are especially healthful. New studies are demonstrating the anti-cancer effects of an ingredient in these green goddesses.
Diindolylmethane (DIM) is the wonder ingredient found in cruciferous vegetables. DIM is also sold over-the-counter as a supplement.
Researchers have found that DIM kills ovarian cancer cells in the laboratory and also improves the effectiveness of a commonly used chemotherapy agent.
"Add cruciferous vegetables to your diet."
Prabodh K. Kandala and Sanjay K. Srivastava, researchers in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Cancer Biology Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, made the discoveries.
Researchers already knew that DIM slows the growth of ovarian cancer cells. In a detailed look at how the chemical behaves, they learned that DIM works by blocking the gene STAT3, which is seen in 90 percent of ovarian cancers.
In addition to causing cell death, DIM also prevented the cancer cells from invading or developing blood vessel structures which are key processes in cancer growth.
A platinum-based chemotherapy drug - cisplatin - is used to treat women with ovarian cancer. The drug doesn't always work, though, and some patients become resistant to it.
For this study, researchers found that when DIM was combined with cisplatin, tumor growth in mice was slowed 50 percent more than when the chemo was used alone.
"DIM increases the effect of cisplatin, without being toxic to normal ovarian cells, by targeting STAT3 signaling and increasing apoptosis," the authors explained.
"Cisplatin is very toxic and has severe side effects. If co-treatment with DIM means that a low dose of cisplatin can be given to patients without the loss of therapeutic effect, but with reduced side effects, it would represent a significant breakthrough in clinical practice," Kandala and Srivastava concluded.
For the experiments, the supplement BioResponse DMI was used.
A number of clinical trials are currently under way to study the impact of DIM on a variety of malignancies including cancers of the breast, prostate, pancreas, kidney and others.
This new research was published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine.