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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Jul 24;57(11):2432-2454. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1077194.

Metabolism and health effects of phyto-estrogens.

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a State Key Laboratory of Food Science and Technology, Nanchang University Nanchang , CN, Nanchang , China.


Phyto-estrogens are plant-derived compounds that can exert various estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects, and are usually used as a natural alternative to estrogen replacement due to their health benefits, including a lowered risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and menopausal symptoms. Phyto-estrogens are also considered as endocrine disruptors due to their structure similar to human female hormone 17-β oestradiol. However, the issue of whether phyto-estrogens are beneficial or harmful to human health remains unknown, as this may depend on the dose, form, level and duration of administration of phyto-estrogens, and influence by genetics, metabolism, gut physiology, age, diet, and the health status of individuals. Clarification on this issue is necessary for the sake of their two-side effects on human health and rapidly increasing global consumption of phyto-estrogens. This review mainly includes the metabolism of phyto-estrogens and weighs the evidence for and against the purported health benefits and adverse effects of phyto-estrogens.


Phyto-estrogens; breast cancer; cardiovascular health; menopausal syndrome; metabolism

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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