Phytoestrogens: Biology 101
The term “phyto-estrogen” has generated more confusion in women who are trying to achieve hormone balance than any other phrase. Most assume that the word “estrogen” implies a steroid hormone, that carries all the risks and side-effects that are posed by too much natural estrogen and, in particular, any amount of synthetic, environmental estrogens.
Consequently, many have failed to benefit from whole, organic and fermented soy foods like miso, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, and edamame (young soybeans in the pod).
All hormones occupy hormone receptor sites, similar to the way a key fits into a lock.
When a natural estrogen occupies an estrogen receptor, it “keys” the receptor site and causes many beneficial & necessary activities to occur. When a synthetic estrogen (xeno-estrogen) occupies an estrogen receptor site, it also causes a myriad of reactions to occur at the receptor site, some of which imitate natural estrogens, but, many of which are harmful to the body.
All synthetic estrogens have a myriad of clearly-established, undesirable side-effects.
Phytoestrogens occupy estrogen receptor sites, however, just as a key blank will plug into your ignition and not start your car, phyto-estrogens do not key or activate any significant activity to occur at the receptor level.
Phytoestrogens: How Beneficial?
Women are exposed to a broad spectrum of xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogens) from meat & dairy and from personal care products that are formulated with petroleum compounds (petro-chemicals).
When phyto-estrogens occupy estrogen receptors, they thereby prevent the “harmful” estrogens from plugging in and subsequent damage to the woman’s body.
Phyto-estrogens, therefore, have a prophylactic or protective effect on women’s health.
Phytoestrogens: the Research
In the lab, phytoestrogens can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. But in human studies, scientists have not found that diets high in soy increase breast cancer risk. In fact, research has shown the opposite effect:
- In a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009, scientists who looked at 5,042 people in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study found that soy was linked to a significantly lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality. But the study, while encouraging, was carried out in China, so questions lingered about the extent to which the findings applied to women elsewhere.
- In a more recent multiyear study, published in May in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists followed nearly 10,000 breast cancer survivors, many of them in the United States. They found that women who ate the most soy had lower rates of cancer recurrence and mortality.Though the findings reflect only a correlation, they suggest that the concerns about soy and breast cancer may be unfounded.Research shows that women in countries with a high consumption of phytoestrogens may have a lower risk of breast cancer.
- In a report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians in 2007, scientists note that exposure to phytoestrogens in childhood or early adolescence may help protect against future incidence of breast cancer.
- A 2001 research review published in Archives of Internal Medicine, investigators analyzed 74 studies on phytoestrogens and concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to recommend the use of phytoestrogens in place of traditional HRT. However, the review’s authors note that
“evidence for the potential health benefits of phytoestrogens is increasing.”
- Phytoestrogens have some beneficial effect on bone mineral density, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels among women undergoing menopause, according to a review published in Fertility and Sterility in 2007. The review’s authors sized up 21 studies, finding evidence that phytoestrogens can protect against breast cancer, bone fracture, or cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.
Phytoestrogens, (plant estrogens) exert beneficial, protective influence against the tsunami of harmful estrogens in our personal care products, the environment and in so many foods. Supplementing with a Bioidentical Progesterone Cream, free of Chinese progesterone, GMO-free & Petro-chemical-free will significantly balance the potential harmful effects from those estrogens.