Plant estrogens may protect from endometrial cancer

August 19, 2003 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Plant estrogens may protect from endometrial cancer

Regular consumption of phytoestrogens, weak estrogens found in plant foods (especially soy and flaxseed), might reduce the risk of endometrial cancer for some women, according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Exposure to estrogen without exposure to progesterone is associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. Phytoestrogens, found in soy, orange juice and other foods, have been shown to reduce the production of estrogen in the body.

Researchers from Northern California Cancer Center in Union City, California conducted the first study that measured the intake of specific phytoestrogen compounds and compared this to endometrial cancer risk. The study included 500 women with endometrial cancer and 480 women of the age same and ethnic group who did not have endometrial cancer.

The women with the highest total consumption of two types of phytoestrogens--isoflavones and lignans--had a 41% and 32% reduced risk, respectively, of endometrial cancer, compared with women with the lowest levels of consumption.

The reduced endometrial cancer risk was particularly evident among postmenopausal women who consumed high levels of isoflavones and lignans. Though the number of obese women in the study was small, the results suggest that obese postmenopausal women who consumed the lowest levels of isoflavones or lignans had the highest risk of endometrial cancer.

The researchers said that based on these findings and other literature on phytoestrogens, they believe that recommending a balanced diet that includes reasonable amounts of phytoestrogen-rich foods (not supplements) is an appropriate public health message at this time.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.