Populations consuming a diet high in soybean phytoestrogens (that mimic human estrogen) have lower incidences of several diseases, including breast and prostate cancer.
Human estrogens and phytoestrogens:
There are not one but three different kinds of estrogen made by the human body: estradiol, estrone, and estriol. In fact, it is possible that taking phytoestrogen supplements may carry the same long-term risk of cancer as estrogen alone.. To avoid some of the known risks of estrogen, some women take phytoestrogens, or plant-based estrogens.
Here's one theory: Once digested, the soybean's phytoestrogens mimic the activity of a woman's natural estrogen hormones. Critics feared that soy phytoestrogens could increase a woman's total estrogen level. But also, phytoestrogens can be helpful if your estrogen levels are high... Populations consuming a diet high in soybean phytoestrogens (compounds that mimic estrogen) have lower incidences of several diseases, including breast and prostate cancer. When estrogen levels are low (as in menopause) empty estrogen receptor sites can be filled with phytoestrogens that can exert a weak pro-estrogenic effect.
Identifying the phytoestrogenic activity of soybean isoflavones would benefit the nutritional health of the population in general, particularly women. The implication is that exposure to pathogen attack or other plant stresses may influence potential phytoestrogenic compounds in soybean in the field. sojae, which induce phytoestrogen levels in soybean cotyledons (seeds) several fold over non-induced cotyledons. Individual soybean phytoestrogens can effect a number of physiological events in mammals. Soy sauce contains very little phytoestrogen content, and many processed foods made from soybean concentrates have insignificant levels of phytoestrogens. An overall reduction in phytoestrogen levels of 12-14 percent was observed in the genetically altered soybean strains.
Techniques are being determined by ARS scientists to manipulate phytoestrogen levels in soybean seed and soy-based products to maximize health benefits by their consumption. Soybean meal is an ingredient common to standard natural ingredient diets which contains a class of phytoestrogens called isoflavones. To provide growers with value added specialty varieties with phytoestrogen profiles of commercial value to major soybean utilizers. To provide growers with soybean varieties with high and consistent phytoestrogen content. To identify molecular markers in the existing maps of the soybean genome linked to genes controlling phytoestrogen content.
The present study tests the hypothesis that administration of a phytoestrogen-rich diet enhances motor and cognitive performance in young and aged mice. "These results show that women who are at risk for osteoporosis may directly benefit from eating a phytoestrogen-rich diet. For women who still get hot flashes in spite of a high phytoestrogen diet and/or use of phytoestrogen supplements, stronger therapy might be necessary. For many women, a safe and natural phytoestrogen supplement or high-phytoestrogen diet will do the trick. A Western diet contains amounts of phytoestrogens too low to allow their levels in plasma to become high enough for biological activity. Reducing the amount of phytoestrogen foods in one's diet may be helpful.