Constituent of Cruciferous Vegetable (Indole-3-Carbinol) Supplementation Shown to Reverse Precancerous Condition of the Cervix (Cervical Dysplasia)
Source: Oncology Time (2002)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (November 10, 2021)
Cancer of the cervix is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, killing 300,000 women each year. The pap smear test for early detection cut the incidence of cervical cancer deaths by 75% and the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer development has recently shown a nearly 90% success rate.
But a 100% success rate in the prevention of cervical cancer remains elusive and this is where nutrition and other lifestyle factors appear to play a significant role. In the previous Lifestyle Medicine Update, I reviewed the research showing that more optimal intake and/or nutritional status of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B 12, lutein, and lycopene are associated with a reduced risk of developing cervical cancer. As well, small studies have found that folic acid supplementation can reverse cervical dysplasia (CIN I and II) in some women who take oral contraceptives.
Building on this theme, a report in the journal, Oncology Times in 2002, showed that supplementation with a key anti-cancer nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables was able to reverse cervical dysplasia in a high percentage of women diagnosed with this precancerous condition of the cervix. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Bok choy, and turnips. Many studies show that individuals who consume these foods on a regular basis have a lower risk of various cancers, including reproductive organ cancers. In this study, 27 women with stage 2 and stage 3 cervical dysplasia (CIN 1 and CIN 20) took part in the study at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. The patients were randomized to receive a placebo or a supplement containing indole-3-carbinol, an important anti-cancer nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. Women in the treatment group were given a dose of 200 or 400 mg/day of indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) for four weeks. Assessment of the cervix was performed at the beginning of the study and then every four weeks, and each woman had a biopsy at baseline and 12 weeks. Interestingly, seven of 10 placebo patients were HPV positive, as were seven of eight patients in the 200-mg I-3-C group and eight of nine in the 400-mg group. At the 12-week biopsy, no patient randomized to placebo showed evidence of cervical dysplasia reversal, whereas four of eight patients in the low-dose 200 mg I-C-3 group, and four of nine in the high-dose 400 mg I-C-3 group exhibited complete regression or complete reversal of their cervical dysplasia condition. In fact, the higher the dose of I-3-C, the more complete the reversal of cervical dysplasia occurred in these women. As well, indole-3-carbinol supplementation improved the ratio of safe estrogens to more dangerous estrogens, in what is known as the 2/16-alpha hydroxy estrone ratio. No patient reported any treatment-related toxicity.
Further studies of this type are being undertaken, but the take-away message from this study, and the one I presented previously on this subject, is that the regular intake of key nutritional factors appears to be an important strategy in helping to prevent the development of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Moreover, indole-3-carbinol supplementation has been shown to reverse stage 2 and stage 3 cervical dysplasia in the study reported here. These human studies provide compelling evidence that women should regularly consume cruciferous vegetables and possibly consider supplementation with an indole-3-carbinol-containing supplement that may also include other important anti-cancer and immune-modulating constituents, as well as a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral.
I have included the reference for this study in the text below.
1. Oncology Times Sept 2002 (vol 24 – issue 9 – p8). Update on Chemoprevention of Cervical Cancer https://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/fulltext/2002/09000/update_on_chemoprevention_of_cervical_cancer.7.aspx
2. BBC News November 4, 2021: HPV vaccine cutting cervical cancer by nearly 90% https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59148620
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.