Chemopreventive properties of 3,3'-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies

Nutr Rev. 2016 Jul;74(7):432-43. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuw010. Epub 2016 May 31.


Diet is a modifiable factor associated with the risk of several cancers, with convincing evidence showing a link between diet and breast cancer. The role of bioactive compounds of food origin, including those found in cruciferous vegetables, is an active area of research in cancer chemoprevention. This review focuses on 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM), the major bioactive indole in crucifers. Research of the cancer-preventive activity of DIM has yielded basic mechanistic, animal, and human trial data. Further, this body of evidence is largely supported by observational studies. Bioactive DIM has demonstrated chemopreventive activity in all stages of breast cancer carcinogenesis. This review describes current evidence related to the metabolism and mechanisms of DIM involved in the prevention of breast cancer. Importantly, this review also focuses on current evidence from human observational and intervention trials that have contributed to a greater understanding of exposure estimates that will inform recommendations for DIM intake.

Keywords: 3-3′-diindolylmethane; breast cancer chemoprevention; glucosinolates..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents*
  • Brassicaceae
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indoles / administration & dosage*
  • Vegetables


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Indoles
  • indole
  • 3,3'-diindolylmethane