Epidemiological studies have revealed that high levels of lignans and isoflavonoids are frequently associated with low breast, prostate and colon cancer risk, as well as a low risk of coronary heart disease. These compounds seem to be cancer protective and/or are biomarkers of a 'healthy' diet. All soy protein products consumed by Asian populations have high concentrations of isoflavonoids. In other countries, such as Finland and Sweden, the lignan levels are higher in populations with the lowest risk because of a high consumption of whole-grain rye bread, berries and some vegetables. There is a strong association between fibre intake per kilogram body weight and lignan concentrations in body fluids. Breast cancer has been found to be associated with low lignan levels in the USA, Finland, Sweden and Australia. With regard to prostate and colon cancer, as well as coronary heart disease, the epidemiological data related to phytoestrogens are still very limited.