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J Nutr. 2002 Oct;132(10):3168-71.

Phytoestrogen concentrations in serum from Japanese men and women over forty years of age.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN, UK.


Asian individuals have much lower incidences of prostate and breast cancer than populations from Western developed countries. They also consume a lower fat, higher fiber diet, with a large intake of phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens may protect against hormone-dependent cancers and other diseases. Our study used established gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) methodologies to measure the concentrations of four phytoestrogens (daidzein, genistein, equol and enterolactone) in serum samples obtained from Japanese men (n = 102) and women (n = 125) > 40 y old. The results were compared with those obtained with samples from the UK. The Japanese men and women had higher (P < 0.001) concentrations of circulating daidzein, genistein and equol than individuals from the UK. The mean concentration of genistein in Japanese men, for example, was 492.7 nmol/L, compared with 33.2 nmol/L in men from the UK. The two populations, however, had similar serum concentrations of enterolactone. Furthermore, 58% of the Japanese men and 38% of the Japanese women had equol concentrations > 20 nmol/L, compared with none of the UK men and 2.2% of the UK women. These results support previously published GC-MS results from studies with low numbers of samples.

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