Urinary and serum concentrations of seven phytoestrogens in a human reference population subset.J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 2003; 13(4):276-82JE
Diets rich in naturally occurring plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) are strongly associated with a decreased risk for cancer and heart disease in humans. Phytoestrogens have estrogenic and, in some cases, antiestrogenic and antiandrogenic properties, and may contribute to the protective effect of some diets. However, little information is available about the levels of these phytoestrogens in the general US population. Therefore, levels of phytoestrogens were determined in urine (N=199) and serum (N=208) samples taken from a nonrepresentative subset of adults who participated in NHANES III, 1988-1994. The phytoestrogens quantified were the lignans (enterolactone, enterodiol, matairesinol); the isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, equol, O-desmethylangolensin); and coumestrol (urine only). Phytoestrogens with the highest mean urinary levels were enterolactone (512 ng/ml), daidzein (317 ng/ml), and genistein (129 ng/ml). In serum, the concentrations were much less and the relative order was reversed, with genistein having the highest mean level (4.7 ng/ml), followed by daidzein (3.9 ng/ml) and enterolactone (3.6 ng/ml). Highly significant correlations of phytoestrogen levels in urine and serum samples from the same persons were observed for enterolactone, enterodiol, genistein, and daidzein. Determination of phytoestrogen concentrations in large study populations will give a better insight into the actual dietary exposure to these biologically active compounds in the US population.