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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 Oct;2(10):887-94. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0039. Epub 2009 Sep 29.

Urinary phytoestrogen excretion and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: the multiethnic cohort study.

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Etiology Program, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, 1236 Lauhala Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA.


The objective of this study was to examine the association of urinary phytoestrogens with the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Participants in the Multiethnic Cohort Study included 36,458 postmenopausal women who provided blood or urine specimens. A nested case-control study of breast cancer with biospecimens was created in which cases diagnosed after specimen collection were matched to two controls. Two hundred fifty-one women with breast cancer and 462 controls had urine available for analysis of urinary phytoestrogens. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were obtained using conditional logistic regression. A nonmonotonic inverse trend (P = 0.04) in breast cancer risk was associated with increasing urinary excretion of genistein (OR 25th-75th percentile, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78-0.99) and total isoflavones (OR 25th-75th percentile, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.65-0.99). A significant reduction in breast cancer risk in Japanese-American women was associated with the highest compared with the lowest quartile excretion of urinary daidzein (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.19-0.89; P(trend), 0.005). The risk of breast cancer was reduced among White women with the highest compared with the lowest quartile excretion of equol (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.08-0.95), although the trend in risk was not significant (P = 0.07). Our results provide some support to the hypothesis that a diet rich in isoflavones from soy products reduces the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, particularly in populations with comparatively high excretion of phytoestrogens.

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