Alison M. Duncan, William R. Phipps, Mindy S. Kurzer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Phyto-oestrogens are oestrogenic compounds found in plants and consist of isoflavones, lignans and coumestans. Epidemiological studies provide evidence for a protective role of isoflavones, and to a lesser extent lignans, against the development of numerous chronic diseases, including several cancers, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The structural similarity of phyto-oestrogens to endogenous oestrogens has prompted the hypothesis that phyto-oestrogens exert hormonal or anti-hormonal effects relevant to the risk of hormone-dependent disease and/or their suitability as a dietary alternative to hormone replacement therapy. The many human studies that have evaluated the effects of isoflavones and lignans on various endpoints relating to risk of various diseases have greatly increased knowledge of how these compounds behave. At the same time, additional questions have been generated. For example, the increasing interest in extracting isoflavones from the soybean for incorporation into dietary supplements has raised important concerns regarding safety and efficacy. Overall, it is clear that phyto-oestrogens are an area of active and advancing research with great potential to continue to affect human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-271
Number of pages19
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Health effects
  • Isoflavone
  • Lignan
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Osteoporosis
  • Phyto-oestrogen
  • Review
  • Safety


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