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Complementary Medicine

Is There Any Medicine That Provides Indole-3-Carbinol?

01/13/2005

Question:

My sister has been treated with surgery and chemo for uterine and ovarian cancer which had spread to the abdomen. Would indole-3-carbinol in high doses in capsule form help prevent a recurrence and kill any stray cancer cells. Can you recommend a company that provides products that contain the correct amount of compound as listed on the label?

Answer:

Indole-3-carbinol is a chemical found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, and collard greens.  It has been shown in epidemiologic studies (looking at populations) to have a preventive effect against cancer.  That is, the more of these vegetables people eat, the less risk there is of cancer.  Scientists have been studying this chemical in test tubes and animals, and there seems to be a definite effect on cancer cells.  We are not at the point, however, where we can say "This is the proven effective dose in a pill to help prevent recurrence of cancer".  My recommendation is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and decrease sources of foods that may have cancer-promoting activities, like saturated fats.

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University