The discussion of the role of non-nutrient components of the diet in cancerprevention emphasizes substances and classes of substances that have received considerable recent attention. These compounds are grouped according to the major potential mechanism for cancer prevention.

• Phyto-estrogens
• Flavonoids
• Isothiocyanates
• Diallyl sulphide
• Polyphenols

Our theme of interest here is phyto-estrogens


What are phyto-estrogens?

Phyto-estrogens are also substances from the plants, they are not steroids, but have similarity in structure with estradiol, the female sex hormone. They have the ability to cause weak estrogenic activity.

What are the uses of phyto-estrogens?

They have got several applications:

• They regulate the bone density in post-menopause women and prevent osteoporosis.
• They protect the heart by regulating cholesterol.
• They are anti-cancer to prostate, breast, bowel and other cancers and help to prevent further disorders.

What are the foods rich in phyto-estrogens?

Soya beans are the best source for phyto-estrogens but they vary with the various processing techniques. Other legumes, whole grains and seeds contain much phyto-estrogens. Soya bean and its products including tofu and soya milk, sesame seed, linseed, wheat, barley, lentils, beans, rice, apples, berries, carrots, ginseng are the food rich in phyto-estrogens. Actually phyto-estrogens are present in most of the plants.

Are there any adverse health effects from phyto-estrogens?

Phyto-estrogens may mimic estrogens, thus large quantities present in the body may disturb the hormone balance. This fact was not proved because phyto-estrogens do not get accumulated in the body. They are absorbed well from the food and the excretion is also simple with the kidneys.

What is the connection between phyto-estrogens and men?

The dose makes the poison once again, it is as usual important. If you take normal quantity there is no problem and intake of excess amount may affect the hormone balance mildly. It has no effect on sperm concentration, thus the fertility. The mild estrogenic activity is the possible reason of the protective effects of phyto-estrogens in prostate cancer prevention.

Do the phyto-estrogens affect the health of women?

There are many contradictory results from the studies. The present recommendations are, it may be useful to healthy women, but it is better that the women with known breast cancer history better avoid it until the scientists explain us clearly. But it is responsible for the reduction of menopause symptoms. This is scientifically established from the studies with Chinese and Japanese women.

Have phyto-estrogens any relation with xeno-estrogens?

Both are having estrogenic activity, but the xeno-estrogens which are man made insecticide and herbicide, have estrogenic activity. The problem is, xeno-setrogens accumulates in our body and gives adverse effects. Phyto-estrogens are absorbed, circulated in the blood and excreted immediately through the kidneys. The research about phyto-estrogens is not yet over.

What about infants and phyto-estrogens?

Phyto-estrogens are not good to infants. They may cause thyroid disorders, behavioural and developmental disorders and cancer. Never use Soy formula for your infant. Cow milk is also not good because of asthma and allergy risks in later life. Breast milk is the best and gives your infant at least one year breast milk.