Diindolylmethane

Common Names

  • DIM

For Patients & Caregivers

Diindolylmethane (DIM) has anticancer effects but clinical data are limited.

Diindolylmethane is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. It showed anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects in laboratory and animal studies. It was also shown to increase bone mass, which may have implications for patients with osteoporosis. Clinical studies show that DIM may benefit patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and help reverse cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal changes in cells on the surface of the cervix). More studies are needed.

  • Cancer Prevention
    Studies suggest that DIM may benefit patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and help reverse cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
  • Estrogen metabolism
    DIM supplementation resulted in changes in estrogen urinary metabolites in post menopausal women with a history of early stage breast cancer.
  • Detoxification
    There is no scientific evidence to back this claim.
  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450: DIM may make them less effective.
  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Multidrug Resistance Protein (MDR1): DIM can reduce their effectiveness.
  • Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR), an idiopathic disease resulting in visual impairment, was reported in a healthy female patient after excessive daily intake of DIM for 2-months. Her symptoms resolved 8 weeks after discontinuing use of DIM.
  • Rash with eosinophilia (an increase in the number of eosinophils in the blood, occurring in response to some allergens or drugs) have been reported following use of DIM.

DIM (and I3C) were shown to alter estrogen urinary metabolite profiles in women. However, their effects on breast cancer risk are unknown.

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For Healthcare Professionals

3,3'-diindolylmethane

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a metabolite of Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a compound found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. It is the most studied of all I3C metabolites and is thought to be superior to IC3 as a chemoprotective compound for breast cancer and prostate cancer (3).

DIM demonstrated anti-inflammatory (16) (17), antiproliferative (16) and chemopreventive (18) effects in vitro and in animal models. It was also shown to increase bone mass (19), which may have implications for patients with osteoporosis.

Limited clinical data indicate that daily supplementation with DIM leads to changes in estrogen metabolism in post menopausal women with a history of early stage breast cancer (4), and may benefit patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer by inhibiting androgen receptor (20). But DIM supplementation did not exert any positive effects in women with cervical cell abnormalities (13) although conflicting evidence indicates that it may help reverse cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (21). Additional studies are needed.

Vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage (1)

  • Cancer prevention
  • Estrogen metabolism
  • Detoxification

Diindolylmethane (DIM), a metabolite of I3C, can induce apoptosis by modulating the expression of the Bax/Bcl-2. It demonstrated antiproliferative effects in animal and cancer cell models (1). It was also shown to inhibit invasion of normal tissue by cancer cells, and to inhibit angiogenesis in cell culture models (5). DIM induces apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells (6) and enhances the effect of erlotinib (7). In colon cancer and prostate cancer cells, DIM inhibits CDK activities (8) (9) and induces apoptosis by down regulating survivin (10) (11). DIM supplementation alters estrogen urinary metabolite profiles in women (4) and has androgen-antagonistic effects (14). It also inhibits prostate cancer cell proliferation and induces apoptosis through Akt activation, NF-KB DNA binding, and androgen receptor phosphorylation (15).

  • Central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR), an idiopathic disease resulting in visual impairment, was reported in a healthy female patient after excessive daily intake of DIM for 2-months. Her symptoms resolved 8 weeks after discontinuing use of DIM (22).
  • Rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms have been reported following use of DIM (23).
  • Cytochrome P450 substrates: DIM induces CYP3A4 and may affect the serum concentration of drugs metabolized by this enzyme (24).
  • Multidrug Resistance Protein (MDR1) subsrates: DIM was also shown to induce MDR1 and can affect the transport of drugs mediated by this protein (24).

DIM supplementation has been shown to alter estrogen urinary metabolites in women (4).


  1. Minich DM, Bland JS. A review of the clinical efficacy and safety of cruciferous vegetable phytochemicals. Nutr Rev 2007;65(6 Pt 1):259-267.

  2. Howells LM, Moiseeva EP, Neal CP et al. Predicting the physiological relevance of in vitro cancer preventive activities of phytochemicals. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2007;28(9):1274-1304.

  3. Bradlow HL. Review. Indole-3-carbinol as a chemoprotective agent in breast and prostate cancer. In Vivo 2008;22(4):441-445.

  4. Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, Dashwood RH. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res 2007;55(3):224-236.

  5. Reed GA, Sunega JM, Sullivan DK et al. Single-dose pharmacokinetics and tolerability of absorption-enhanced 3,3’-diindolylmethane in healthy subjects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008;17(10):2619-2624.

  6. Le HT, Schaldach CM, Firestone GL, et al. Plant-derived 3,3’-Diindolylmethane is a strong androgen antagonist in human prostate cancer cells. J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 6;278(23):21136-45.

  7. Qian X, Song JM, Melkamu T, Upadhyaya P, Kassie F. Chemoprevention of lung tumorigenesis by intranasally administered diindolylmethane in A/J mice. Carcinogenesis. 2013 Apr;34(4):841-9.

  8. Yu TY, Pang WJ, Yang GS. 3,3’-Diindolylmethane increases bone mass by suppressing osteoclastic bone resorption in mice. J Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Jan;127(1):75-82.

  9. Bussel II, Lally DR, Waheed NK. Bilateral central serous chorioretinopathy associated with estrogen modulator diindolylmethane. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging Retina. 2014 Nov-Dec;45(6):589-91.

  10. Le TM, Sanders CJ, van de Corput L, van Erpecum KJ, Röckmann H. Drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms caused by the dietary supplement diindolylmethane. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016 Jan-Feb;4(1):175-6.

  11. Pondugula SR, Flannery PC, Abbott KL, et al. Diindolylmethane, a naturally occurring compound, induces CYP3A4 and MDR1 gene expression by activating human PXR. Toxicol Lett. 2015 Feb 3;232(3):580-9.

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