Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Jun;84(6):2249-52. doi: 10.1210/jcem.84.6.5887.


The female flowers of the hop plant are used as a preservative and as a flavoring agent in beer. However, a recurring suggestion has been that hops have a powerful estrogenic activity and that beer may also be estrogenic. In this study, sensitive and specific in vitro bioassays for estrogens were used for an activity-guided fractionation of hops via selective solvent extraction and appropriate HPLC separation. We have identified a potent phytoestrogen in hops, 8-prenylnaringenin, which has an activity greater than other established plant estrogens. The estrogenic activity of this compound was reflected in its relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors from rat uteri. The presence of 8-prenylnaringenin in hops may provide an explanation for the accounts of menstrual disturbances in female hop workers. This phytoestrogen can also be detected in beer, but the levels are low and should not pose any cause for concern.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beer / analysis*
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / analysis*
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / metabolism
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Flavanones*
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Isoflavones*
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Rats
  • Rosales / chemistry*
  • Uterus / chemistry
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Uterus / metabolism


  • 8-prenylnaringenin
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Flavanones
  • Flavonoids
  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Estradiol