Phytoestrogens and the management of menopause.Adv Nurse Pract 1999; 7(5):26-30AN
Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that are structurally or functionally similar to steroidal estrogens produced by the body, such as estradiol. Phytoestrogens are derived from dietary precursors. Methodologically rigorous studies demonstrate the benefit of phytoestrogens in addressing the climacteric syndrome--including vasomotor symptoms--and postmenopausal health risks. Studies suggest that phytoestrogen supplementation offers a potential alternative or complement to conventional HRT for osteoporosis prevention. Whether these effects will translate into reduced fracture rates or enhanced function and well-being remains for further study. The majority of evidence about the impact of plant estrogen consumption on the risk of cancer is epidemiologic. Rates of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers are low in Asian cultures, where the diet is rich in soy isoflavones.