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      The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens


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          Phytoestrogens are plant‐derived dietary compounds with structural similarity to 17‐β‐oestradiol (E2), the primary female sex hormone. This structural similarity to E2 enables phytoestrogens to cause (anti)oestrogenic effects by binding to the oestrogen receptors. The aim of the present review is to present a state‐of‐the‐art overview of the potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Various beneficial health effects have been ascribed to phytoestrogens, such as a lowered risk of menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and osteoporosis, lowered risks of cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, brain function disorders, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and other cancers. In contrast to these beneficial health claims, the (anti)oestrogenic properties of phytoestrogens have also raised concerns since they might act as endocrine disruptors, indicating a potential to cause adverse health effects. The literature overview presented in this paper illustrates that several potential health benefits of phytoestrogens have been reported but that, given the data on potential adverse health effects, the current evidence on these beneficial health effects is not so obvious that they clearly outweigh the possible health risks. Furthermore, the data currently available are not sufficient to support a more refined (semi) quantitative risk–benefit analysis. This implies that a definite conclusion on possible beneficial health effects of phytoestrogens cannot be made.

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          This article is part of a themed section on Principles of Pharmacological Research of Nutraceuticals. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.11/issuetoc

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          By eliciting distinct transcriptional responses, the oestrogen receptors (ERs) ERα and ERβ exert opposite effects on cellular processes that include proliferation, apoptosis and migration and that differentially influence the development and the progression of cancer. Perturbation of ER subtype-specific expression has been detected in various types of cancer, and the differences in the expression of ERs are correlated with the clinical outcome. The changes in the bioavailability of ERs in tumours, together with their specific biological functions, promote the selective restoration of their activity as one of the major therapeutic approaches for hormone-dependent cancers.
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            Phytoestrogens are plant derived compounds found in a wide variety of foods, most notably soy. A litany of health benefits including a lowered risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and menopausal symptoms, are frequently attributed to phytoestrogens but many are also considered endocrine disruptors, indicating that they have the potential to cause adverse health effects as well. Consequently, the question of whether or not phytoestrogens are beneficial or harmful to human health remains unresolved. The answer is likely complex and may depend on age, health status, and even the presence or absence of specific gut microflora. Clarity on this issue is needed because global consumption is rapidly increasing. Phytoestrogens are present in numerous dietary supplements and widely marketed as a natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy. Soy infant formula now constitutes up to a third of the US market, and soy protein is now added to many processed foods. As weak estrogen agonists/antagonists with molecular and cellular properties similar to synthetic endocrine disruptors such as Bisphenol A (BPA), the phytoestrogens provide a useful model to comprehensively investigate the biological impact of endocrine disruptors in general. This review weighs the evidence for and against the purported health benefits and adverse effects of phytoestrogens. Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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              To determine the relation of menopause to the risk of coronary heart disease, we analyzed data on a prospective cohort of 121,700 U.S. women 30 to 55 years old who were followed from 1976 to 1982. Information on menopausal status, the type of menopause, and other risk factors was obtained in 1976 and updated every two years by mailing questionnaires. Through 1982, the follow-up rate was 98.3 percent for mortality and 95.4 percent for nonfatal events. After we controlled for age and cigarette smoking, women who had had a natural menopause and who had never taken replacement estrogen had no appreciable increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, as compared with premenopausal women (adjusted rate ratio, 1.2; 95 percent confidence limits, 0.8 and 1.8). Again compared with premenopausal women, the occurrence of a natural menopause together with the use of estrogens did not affect the risk (rate ratio, 0.8, 95 percent confidence limits, 0.4 and 1.3). Women who had undergone bilateral oophorectomy and who had never taken estrogens after menopause had an increased risk (rate ratio, 2.2; 95 percent confidence limits, 1.2 and 4.2). However, the use of estrogens in the postmenopausal period appeared to eliminate this increased risk among these women as compared with premenopausal women (rate ratio, 0.9; 95 percent confidence limits, 0.6 and 1.6). These data suggest that, in contrast to a natural menopause, bilateral oophorectomy increases the risk of coronary heart disease. This increase appears to be prevented by estrogen-replacement therapy.

                Author and article information

                Br J Pharmacol
                Br. J. Pharmacol
                British Journal of Pharmacology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                20 October 2016
                June 2017
                20 October 2016
                : 174
                : 11 , Themed Section: Principles of Pharmacological Research of Nutraceuticals. Guest Editors: Ruth Andrew and Angelo A Izzo ( doiID: 10.1111/bph.v174.11 )
                : 1263-1280
                [ 1 ] Division of ToxicologyWageningen University WageningenThe Netherlands
                Author notes
                [*] [* ]Correspondence Professor Ivonne M. C. M. Rietjens, Division of Toxicology, Wageningen University, PO Box 8000, 6700 EA Wageningen, The Netherlands. E‐mail: ivonne.rietjens@ 123456wur.nl
                BPH13622 2016-BJP-0326-RCT-G.R1
                © 2016 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Pharmacological Society

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

                : 06 May 2016
                : 04 August 2016
                : 05 September 2016
                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Pages: 18, Words: 8588
                Review Article
                Themed Section: Review Articles
                Custom metadata
                June 2017
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.0.9 mode:remove_FC converted:13.05.2017

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine
                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine


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