Posted on Sun, 11 Jul 10
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), also known as cervical dysplasia, is a potentially precancerous condition of the cervix. Current treatments generally consist of invasive procedures that may adversely affect reproductive potential and safer methods for cancer prevention are needed. A natural substance derived from broccoli has shown some promise.
If left untreated, there is a small risk that some more severe cases of CIN (grade II-III) will progress to cervical cancer. Indole-3-carbinol, a phytochemical naturally occurring in broccoli and other brassica vegetables, has been investigated for its anticancer potential (1). Several lines of evidence suggest indole-3-carbinol has potential as a cancer preventative and a clinical study suggests that indole-3-carbinol (I3C) may cause CIN II-III to regress.
In an investigative study thirty women with CIN II-III received either placebo or 200, or 400 mg per day I3C for 12 weeks (2). At the end of the 12 weeks approximately 50% of the women taking I3C had complete regression of CIN II-III whereas none of the women taking the placebo improved. A greater improvement was noticed in the women taking the higher 400 mg dose.
This study is a promising insight into the potential of I3C as a cancer preventative and further studies are needed to clarify the potential of I3C as a treatment for CIN II-III. A number of human studies have verified the relative safety of I3C and another clinical study found that I3C improved vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (3).
I3C is available as a dietary supplement, or can be obtained through increasing your intake of brassica vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage though the amounts may vary greatly and are lowered by cooking. The amount used in the above study (400 mg) is estimated to be the daily equivalent of a ¼ head of raw cabbage.
1. Weng JR, Tsai CH, Kulp SK, Chen CS. Indole-3-carbinol as a chemopreventive and anti-cancer agent. Cancer Lett. 2008 Apr 18;262(2):153-63.
2. Bell MC, et al. Placebo-controlled trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of CIN. Gynecol Oncol. 2000 Aug;78(2):123-9.
3. Naik R, et al. A randomized phase II trial of indole-3-carbinol in the treatment of vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia. Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2006 Mar-Apr;16(2):786-90.