Phytoestrogen intake and prostate cancer: a case-control study using a new database

Nutr Cancer. 1999;33(1):20-5. doi: 10.1080/01635589909514743.


In the last several years, attention has been focused on comparing the Western diet, which is rich in fat, protein, and refined carbohydrates, with the Asian diet, which is rich in phytoestrogens, as a possible explanation for the contrasting rates of clinically relevant prostate cancer. Phytoestrogens, plant-derived nutrients, include several isoflavones, flavonoids, lignans, phytosterols, and coumestans, some of which have been postulated as having anticarcinogenic properties. Using a new database, we examined the role of phytoestrogen intake and prostate cancer risk in 83 Caucasian cases and 107 controls. Controls reported consuming higher amounts of foods containing genistein, daidzein, and coumestrol and lower amounts of foods containing campesterol and stigmasterol. Multivariate analysis, after adjustment for age, family history of prostate cancer, alcohol consumption, and total calorie intake, showed an inverse association between coumestrol (p = 0.03) and daidzein (p = 0.07) and prostate cancer risk. Genistein, the most studied phytoestrogen, showed a slight protective effect (p = 0.26). However, a positive association was found between campesterol (p = 0.08) and stigmasterol (p = 0.03) and risk of prostate cancer. These results are suggestive of a possible relationship between phytoestrogen intake and prostate cancer risk. Larger comprehensive studies are needed to further refine the role of phytoestrogen intake in prostate cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cholesterol / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Diet Records
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Genistein / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Phytosterols*
  • Plant Preparations
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Stigmasterol / administration & dosage
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Preparations
  • campesterol
  • Cholesterol
  • Stigmasterol
  • Genistein