A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of diindolylmethane for breast cancer biomarker modulation in patients taking tamoxifen

Cynthia Thomson, Hsiao-Hui Chow, Betsy C. Wertheim, Denise Roe, Alison T Stopeck, Gertraud Maskarinec, Maria I Altbach, Pavani Chalasani, Chuan Huang, Meghan B. Strom, Jean-Philippe Galons, Patricia A. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Diindolylmethane (DIM), a bioactive metabolite of indole-3-carbinol found in cruciferous vegetables, has proposed cancer chemoprevention activity in the breast. There is limited evidence of clinically relevant activity of DIM or long-term safety data of its regular use. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to determine the activity and safety of combined use of BioResponse DIM® (BR-DIM) with tamoxifen. Methods: Women prescribed tamoxifen (n = 130) were randomly assigned oral BR-DIM at 150 mg twice daily or placebo, for 12 months. The primary study endpoint was change in urinary 2/16α-hydroxyestrone (2/16α-OHE1) ratio. Changes in 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OHE1), serum estrogens, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), breast density, and tamoxifen metabolites were assessed. Results: Ninety-eight women (51 placebo, 47 DIM) completed intervention; compliance with treatment was >91%. BR-DIM increased the 2/16α-OHE1 ratio (+3.2 [0.8, 8.4]) compared to placebo (−0.7 [−1.7, 0.8], P < 0.001). Serum SHBG increased with BR-DIM compared to placebo (+25 ± 22 and +1.1 ± 19 nmol/L, respectively). No change in breast density measured by mammography or by MRI was observed. Plasma tamoxifen metabolites (endoxifen, 4-OH tamoxifen, and N-desmethyl-tamoxifen) were reduced in women receiving BR-DIM versus placebo (P < 0.001). Minimal adverse events were reported and did not differ by treatment arm. Conclusion: In patients taking tamoxifen for breast cancer, daily BR-DIM promoted favorable changes in estrogen metabolism and circulating levels of SHBG. Further research is warranted to determine whether BR-DIM associated decreases in tamoxifen metabolites, including effects on endoxifen levels, attenuates the clinical benefit of tamoxifen. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01391689.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 30 2017



  • Breast cancer
  • Diindolylmethane
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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