Phytoestrogens Make Breasts Grow
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds present in various plants, such as soy and licorice,66,67 that possess some of the activities of the female hormone 17-estradiol. The phytoestrogens activity of pomegranate peel extract was determined by means of an online biochemical detection system combined with LC-MS.17 This system merges the capacity of certain components in the extract under study to bind to P-estrogen receptor, while simultaneously separating and identifying the active components. Using the above method, three active flavonoids were found to be present in pomegranate peel extract and to bind to P-estrogen receptor-luteolin, quercetin, and kaempferol. It is interesting to note that when glycosylated derivatives of these three active phytoestrogens, which are also present in the extract, were examined separately, the estrogen-like activity demonstrated in the parent compounds was abolished. In another study, the well-known phytoestrogen coumestrol was detected at...
Daily dose of hoary goat weed or placebo. All the women received 300 mg of calcium daily. According to researchers, flavonoids (phytoestrogens) of hoary goat weed may be responsible for increase in bone mineral density at the hip and lumber region thus exerting a useful effect in osteoporosis. The herb contains iicarin and flavonoids genistein and daidezin.
Recently, particular attention has been focused on certain isoflavones that are found primarily in legumes. It had been observed earlier that sheep became infertile after grazing on certain legumes. It turned out that these forage plants contained isoflavones, which in animals (and in humans) have an effect similar to that of estrogens. For this reason, they have been named phytoestrogens. Genistein, shown in Figure 18.13, has a strong estrogen effect. Some of these phytoestrogens are used for medical purposes.
Administered in combination with a flavonoid-rich citrus extract, ascorbate was absorbed by an increased 35 over ascorbate that was administered alone.29 Another investigation demonstrated the antioxidative abilities of soy (Glycine soja) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) extracts, both of which have flavonoids as main active ingredients.30 The two extracts had notable antioxidant capability as expressed by decreased LDL oxidation however, when acerola cherry (Malpighia glabra) extract (which is rich in ascorbic acid) was added, the antioxidative effect was enhanced further. The investigators concluded that ascorbate could enhance the activity of flavonoid-rich antioxidants. It was suggested that this synergistic activity was the result of the peroxidolitic action of ascorbic acid complemented by flavonoid-induced stabilization of the LDL in this particular study and the suppression of free-radical species propagation. This research team also noted that the combination decreased the...
The unique biochemistry of the pomegranate tree is quite intriguing. In addition to the high levels of antioxidant-rich tannins and flavonoids in its juice and peel, the crushed and dry seeds of its fruit produce a distinct oil, about 60 of which is a very rare 18-carbon fatty acid, also referred to as punicic acid. This oil contains isoflavone genistein, the phytoestrogen coumestrol, and the sex steroid estrone. In fact, the pomegranate tree is one of the only plants in nature known to contain estrone.3 Its estrone-containing nature may in part explain its therapeutic efficacy, given that several lines of evidence suggest a possible role of phytoestrogens in
It can be processed into a number of fermented and non-fermented food products. Research into phytochemicals has shown that soybean contains phytoestrogens, and so may help in managing irregular periods, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal hot flushes and post-menopausal problems such as osteoporosis, fatigue and vaginal dryness (Holt, 1998 Connie, 1999). It may also help guard against cancers, including prostate cancer.
Because of increased health awareness in the public, there is a tremendous demand for functional foods that contain enhanced levels of phytochemicals that are beneficial for human health. In soybean, such phytochemicals are isoflavones, fatty acids, amino acids, phytic acids, phytoestrogens, gluco-sides and saponin glycosides. Isoflavones have been reported to have several health benefits such as in breast cancer, prostate cancer and cardiovascular diseases (Menon et al., 1998 Ji et al., 1999). There are three major groups of isoflavones in soybean - genistein, daidzein and glycitein - that have positive health effects. It has been reported that there is a genetic variation for this important phytochemical in soybean (Ding et al., 1995), and breeding objectives aim to increase the concentration of desirable isoflavones. To this end, the molecular breeding approach has also been applied by mapping the QTL associated with isoflavones and eventually adopting MAS (Primomo et al., 2005,...
Maintaining and restoring intestinal microflora can augment the effects of isoflavone consumption. The DIANA study suggested that the bioavailability of phytoestrogens may have been higher as a result of the enhanced microflora balance produced by a more vegetarian diet that promoted beneficial flora growth. Phytoestrogens are in foods, in the form of glycosides that must be hydrolyzed by gut bacteria to produce aglycones. Studies comparing Western microflora versus the flora of vegetarians or people who consume macrobiotic diets demonstrate that the latter subjects typically have more lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, which hy-drolyzes glycosides to aglycones.41 Thus, diets emphasizing plant foods are recommended. Probiotics, themselves, have not been shown to directly affect phytoestrogen metabolism, although they can decrease beta-glucuronidase activity.
Apart from the hyaluronidase inhibitory activity,39 no other potential biological activity has been attributed to the microbial metabolites, urolithins. However, it is anticipated that gut microflora metabolites urolithins are potential endocrine-disrupting molecules that could resemble other described enterophytoestrogens (microflora-derived metabolites with estrogenic antiestrogenic activity) with potential estrogenic antiestrogenic effect in the range of that reported for other well-known estrogenic compounds such as enterolactone, resveratrol, genistein, and daidzein.43 Further research is warranted to evaluate the possible role of ellagitannins and ellagic acid as dietary pro-phytoestrogens.
Accumulating evidences, mostly from animal and some from human studies, have indicated that isoflavones have multiple, beneficial pharmacological activities, particularly in the prevention of osteoporosis and the genesis of estrogen-dependent cancer (Bingham etal., 1999). However, safe and effective dose range of dietary phytoestrogens necessary to achieve a significant beneficial health effect without undesirable side effects remain to be established. To provide a guideline for dietary isoflavones intake, the pharmacokinetic properties (ADME) of various isoflavones from different types of foods must be understood. In the food industry, improvements in food technology and genetic modifications of the isoflavone bearing agricultural products to enhance and modify isoflavone constituents must also be achieved.
In the past decades, major stride was made in women's health by launching SERM, e.g. tamoxifen and raloxifene (Jordan, 1998). Their promising results on the chemopre-vention of breast cancer in clinical studies shed light on the development of new SERM in pharmaceutical industry. Isoflavones have become prominent agents for estrogen-dependent diseases because they can protect women from osteoporosis and exhibit anti-estrogenic properties in the breast, uterus and prostate tissue to prevent cancer formation. They are natural compounds derived from edible plants that have been consumed by Asians, South Americans, and vegetarians for long periods apparently without any undesirable side effects (Olsen and Love, 1997). Clinical and experimental evaluation of those isoflavones could led to the discovery of more efficacious agents with better phar-macokinetic properties. Further, balanced diets containing proper isoflavone contents could be recommended for pre- and post-menopausal women and...
Estrogens play a role in the control of body temperature. Soybean contains phytochemicals such as genistein, daidzein, and other phytoestrogens. These are the botanical equivalents of the human female hormone, but their effect is milder than that of estrogen and progesterone. However, they may ease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness and perhaps alleviate premenstrual difficulties such as cramping and irritability. Isoflavones in soybean may also offer some relief from the pain, swelling, nausea and bleeding of endometriosis (Lock, 1991 Cassidy et al., 1995).
Various lignans and flavonoids have been shown to inhibit the aromatase enzyme. Lignans are phytoestrogens with weak estrogenic effects and possibly antiestrogenic effects. Numerous flavonoids and lignans such as apigenin, quercetin, genistein, biochanin A, daidzein, and zearalenone have shown the ability to inhibit aromatase in vitro.35 The isoflavone genistein, found in soy and red clover, and the lignans enterolactone and enterodiol found in flaxseeds, have been shown to inhibit aromatase in breast cancer cells in vitro, resulting in decreased production of estradiol and estrone.36 Due to the increased absorption of flaxseed and soy, among other sources of lignans and flavonoids, these are areas of increased research for aromatase inhibition and hormone-dependent cancer prevention.
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