June 3rd, 2011
03:51 PM ET

How much is too much phytoestrogen?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Asked by Keyana of Spokane, Washington:

I have two questions. What is considered to be a high/harmful amount of phytoestrogen in a woman's diet per day? And should a woman who has had cancer not take estrogen replacements or eat a diet high in phytoestrogens?

Expert answer:

Hi, Keyana. These are interesting questions. I'm going to assume that you are talking about breast cancer since the association of phytoestrogen consumption and breast cancer risk is the most concerning to many women.

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that act like the hormone estrogen. There are two basic types of phytoestrogens: isoflavones and lignans.

Soy products are the most common source of isoflavones, and the controversy surrounding cancer and phytoestrogens are related to soy products. To provide you with the best possible response to your question, I turned to noted cancer nutrition expert Rachel Beller, who addresses this question on a regular basis at the Beller Nutritional Institute in Los Angeles.

Beller explained that while phytoestrogens are similar to human estrogens, their effect on human estrogen levels has not been well-researched because plant estrogens are 1,000 times weaker than the estrogen produced in our bodies.

Many studies suggest that soy isoflavones' estrogen-like effects are probably too weak to have any significant consequence on breast tissue in healthy women - that includes breast cancer survivors.

Regarding the association with breast cancer, Beller points to a 2011 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention that found soy to be safe and favorable, even for breast cancer survivors, when eaten in its natural, unprocessed state - for example, tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso soup.

In fact, experts agree that fermented soy (miso, tempeh) is good for you. The fermentation process alters the chemical makeup of soy, which reduces the level of isoflavones by as much as 300%.

Therefore fermented soy foods have three times less of the chemical in question.

While this study does not conclusively establish the safety of soy, phytoestrogens aside, soy is not only an excellent source of heart healthy plant-based protein, which is encouraged in the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, it also contains dozens of nutrients that also appear to help fight cancer development.

These nutrients can protect cells from becoming damaged, encourage faulty cells to die instead of reproducing, regulate cell growth and even improve cell communication. These are all things that help strengthen your body against cancer and heart disease.

A study has also shown that consumption of soy early in life may help protect against breast cancer later in life, even if it may be more questionable for post-menopausal women.

What's also noteworthy is that Asians have been eating soy foods in large amounts for centuries, and their traditional soy-rich diets are associated with lower risks of breast and prostate cancer than Western diets.

Beller goes on to say that the "bad rap" that soy's been getting is due to the fact that when we hear something's "good for you," we process it to the max, extract the good stuff and concentrate it, which basically makes it lose its original identity.

Skip the processed soy foods and supplements, especially if you have a history of breast cancer.

The bottom line: If you have no history of breast cancer, there is no known high or harmful amount of phytoestrogens, and foods such as unprocessed soy are an important part of a healthy diet.

If you have a history of breast cancer, as with nutrition in general, you should not focus on a single food or nutrient. The key is moderation.

The phytoestrogens consumed by eating moderate amounts of relatively whole and unrefined forms of soy foods (two to three times a week) can be considered part of a healthy, complete diet.

Regarding estrogen replacement therapy, according to the National Cancer Institute, "Studies of hormone use to treat menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors have produced conflicting results," so I suggest speaking with your physician to determine the best approach for you.

Follow Dr. Jampolis on Twitter

soundoff (924 Responses)
  1. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – thesis abstracts thesis service write a good thesis write thesis

    March 26, 2021 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. LmoppEncox

    http://essaywriteris.com/ – can i get someone to write my essay what should i write my essay on essay writers net buy cheap essays online

    March 27, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Spencer Rochford

    After looking over a number of the blog articles on your website, I truly like your way of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and let me know your opinion.


    March 28, 2021 at 07:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. jarge Playmn

    Hello! It's a best video downloader online – FastFrom, allows to save all videos from internet to you mobile or PC.


    March 29, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Francis Speers

    Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    March 31, 2021 at 23:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. AbgcEncox

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – writing a graduate thesis phd thesis paper writing thesis phd thesis paper

    April 3, 2021 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Uttarahalli Escorts Service

    I guess the most important thing is to steer clear away from spam moderators by putting comment that actually MATTER. Anyways, I’ll be using these blogs. Thank you so much!


    April 4, 2021 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Escort young ladies in Padmanabhanagar

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.


    April 5, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kammanahalli Escorts Service

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.


    April 5, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Teenage Girls Bangalore

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.


    April 5, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. escorts near Mahalakshmi Layout

    Thanks again for sharing a wonderful list. I was wondering u did not mention the most sought after terminology used in all the blog commenting articles.


    April 5, 2021 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Buy Proxy Ipv6

    Somebody essentially help to make seriously articles I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular publish amazing. Wonderful job!


    April 8, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FbshEncox

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – thesisacloud.com thesis writing thesisacloud.com thesis research proposal

    April 8, 2021 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. levitra generic vardenafil

    vardenafil nortwest pharmacy https://vegavardenafil.com/ buy vardenafil online without presciption

    April 11, 2021 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. canadian weight loss pills

    canadian weight loss pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian customs pills vitamins

    April 12, 2021 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. zithromax z pack

    zithromax 250 mg tablets https://zithromaxes.com/ z pak ear infection

    April 13, 2021 at 05:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. vardenafil 20 mg tablets

    where to buy online vardenafil with out prescribed https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil grapefruit interaction

    April 13, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. alprostadil suppository for sale

    edex (alprostadil) https://alprostadildrugs.com/ how to administer transurethral alprostadil

    April 14, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cameron Figueiredo

    Thanks for the suggestions you write about through this website. In addition, quite a few young women exactly who become pregnant do not even try to get medical insurance because they have anxiety they probably would not qualify. Although some states at this moment require that insurers supply coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions. Rates on all these guaranteed options are usually greater, but when thinking about the high cost of medical treatment it may be some sort of a safer strategy to use to protect your current financial potential.


    April 15, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. cialis canadian

    canadian generic cialis safe https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian pharmacy no perscription generic cialis

    April 15, 2021 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian customs pills vitamins https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills pharmacy

    April 15, 2021 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. what is tadalafil

    tadalafil pills https://elitadalafill.com/ generic tadalafil 40 mg

    April 16, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. canadian pharmacy cialis no prescription

    cialis through canadian pharmacies https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian generic cialis 20mg

    April 17, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. where to buy alprostadil cream

    alprostadil gel online https://alprostadildrugs.com/ buy alprostadil cream online

    April 17, 2021 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. tadalafil pills 20mg

    what is tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil pills

    April 21, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. sildenafil us pharmacy

    sildenafil prices in india https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil pharmacy nz

    April 21, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. zithromax 250 mg

    zepak antibiotics https://zithromaxes.com/ zepak antibiotics

    April 22, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. canada online viagra

    generic viagra shipping from canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ generic viagra canada free shipping

    April 22, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. GvdbCrulk

    tadalafil 10mg http://boxtadafil.com/ tadalafil 20 mg reviews

    April 22, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. FbsfEncox

    ED Trial Pack https://uspharmus.com/ anti-depressants

    April 23, 2021 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. LhdvZisse

    find cheapest cialis pills http://asciled.com/ get cialis to work

    April 23, 2021 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LhdvZisse

    cialis online aust http://asciled.com/ generic cialis from canada

    April 23, 2021 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Forklift For Sale Los Angeles

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your website.


    April 23, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Blinds Near Me


    April 23, 2021 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. JbsdEncox

    Viagra with Duloxetine https://onlinecanda21.com/ canadian online pharmacy

    April 24, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rv wraps near me

    I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    April 24, 2021 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Entertainment System Near Me


    April 24, 2021 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV AC Riverside


    April 24, 2021 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. houses for sale post falls idaho

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something relating to this.


    April 24, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Forklift Maintenance California

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you need to write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about such issues. To the next! Best wishes!!


    April 24, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    canadian pills pharmacy https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills online

    April 25, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv inspection near me

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I actually thought you'd have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.


    April 25, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Entertainment System California

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    April 25, 2021 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RfvbZisse

    generic vs brand name for cialis https://cileve.com/ – cialis online pharmacy australian generic cialis india

    April 26, 2021 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. LrbsEncox

    levitra dose http://uslevitraanna.com/ price of levitra 20 mg

    April 26, 2021 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RfvbZisse

    buy cialis with prescription australia http://cileve.com/ cialis no prescrip

    April 26, 2021 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. dapoxetine

    dapoxetine tablet generic priligy

    April 27, 2021 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. AbdgEncox

    Allegra https://canadianeve21.com/ – Viagra Soft Flavored Tetracycline

    April 27, 2021 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. LrbsEncox

    why is levitra so expensive https://uslevitraanna.com/ is levitra as good as viagra

    April 27, 2021 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. real estate for sale coeur d alene idaho


    April 27, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

June 2011
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.