Objective: To confirm the results of an earlier study showing premenopausal equol excretors to have hormone profiles associated with reduced breast cancer risk, and to investigate whether equol excretion status and plasma hormone concentrations can be influenced by consumption of probiotics. Design: A randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel-arm trial. Subjects: In all, 34 of the initially enrolled 37 subjects completed all requirements. Intervention: All subjects were followed for two full menstrual cycles and the first seven days of a third cycle. During menstrual cycle 1, plasma concentrations of estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), estrone-sulfate (E1-S), testosterone (T), androstenedione (A), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S), and sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were measured on cycle day 2, 3, or 4, and urinary equol measured on day 7 after a 4-day soy challenge. Subjects then received either probiotic capsules (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum) or placebo capsules through day 7 of menstrual cycle 3, at which time both the plasma hormone concentrations and the post-soy challenge urinary equol measurements were repeated. Results: During menstrual cycle 1, equol excretors and non-excretors were not significantly different with respect to subject characteristics, diet, or hormone concentrations. Significant inverse correlations were found between E2 and body mass index (BMI) (P=0.02), SHBG and BMI (P=0.01), DHEA-S and dietary fiber (P=0.04), and A and protein:carbohydrate ratio (P=0.02). Probiotic consumption failed to significantly alter equol excretor status or hormone concentrations during menstrual cycle 3, although there were trends towards decreased concentrations of T (P=0.14) and SHBG (P=0.10) in the probiotic group. Conclusions: We were unable to verify a previously reported finding of premenopausal equol excretors having plasma hormone concentrations different from those of nonexcretors. Furthermore, a 2-month intervention with probiotic capsules did not significantly alter equol excretion or plasma hormone concentrations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the General Clinical Research Center Grant MO1-RR00400 from the National Center for Research Resources and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. We would like to thank the study participants for their time and dedication, as well as the staff at the General Clinical Research Center, University of Minnesota. We are grateful to Jennifer Nettleton, Kris Greany, and Jill Hamilton-Reeves for their help with laboratory assays and Will Thomas for his help with statistical analysis. The soy protein isolate and probiotic capsules were generously donated by The Solae Company, St. Louis, MO, and UAS Laboratories, Minnetonka, MN, respectively.