Food choice and phytoestrogen consumption in women previously treated for postmenopausal breast cancer
© BioMed Central Ltd 2008
Published: 13 May 2008
Phytoestrogens are plant-derived, bioactive substances with a chemical structure similar to that of 17β-oestradiol. Women previously treated for breast cancer may increase their phytoestrogen intake to avoid conventional hormone replacement therapy or because of a belief that they may help avoid recurrence [1, 2]. There is no recommended daily intake and there are some concerns about phytoestrogen safety in this group, although the evidence is conflicting and more research is needed [3, 4].
Three hundred and sixteen women each completed a 4-day food and drink diary (14 of whom also completed a 7-day weighed intake diary 6 weeks previously). The 55 most recently recruited women collected their urine for 24 hours whilst completing their diaries and were interviewed by telephone regarding their food choices since diagnosis.
Summary of intake data by receptor status and antioestrogenic drug prescription
Total phytoestrogen intake (μg/1,000 kcal) (n = 316)
126 to 77,703
3,817 to 6,798
6,799 to 10,255
Tamoxifen or arimidexa
Main food sources of phytoestrogens
From highest quartile
Main food group source
Tea (black leaves), cereal foods
Tea (black leaves), fruit, vegetables
Variation in phytoestrogen intakes and metabolite excretion reflect food preferences, dietary analysis database limitations and likely variations in existing knowledge combined with a lack of routine access to dietary information. In the absence of definitive advice, more immediate health and social concerns influence food choice rather than past breast cancer diagnosis.
No data previously existed on intake in this potentially vulnerable group and these data will help evaluate the health implications related to such phytoestrogen consumption patterns.
Funded by the Food Standards Agency, UK.
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