Objective: Phyto-oestrogens are plant compounds with both oestrogenic and anti-oestrogenic properties. However, it is not known whether natural phyto-oestrogens are beneficial or harmful in human osteoporosis. This study was performed to investigate the relationships between urinary phyto-oestrogens and bone mineral density (BMD) in Korean postmenopausal women.
Design: The subjects were classified into osteoporotic, osteopenic and normal groups according to their BMD as defined by WHO criteria. We compared the urinary phyto-oestrogens of each group and studied whether urinary phyto-oestrogens correlate with BMD.
Patients: The subjects were 75 Korean postmenopausal women with ages ranging from 52 to 65 years (mean 58 +/- 1.1 years). Mean number of years after menopause was 7.3 +/- 1.3.
Measurements: Twenty-four-hour urinary phyto-oestrogens were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) and BMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, Lunar Expert-XL, Lunar Co., WI, USA).
Results: In Korean postmenopausal women, urinary enterolactone (1.46 +/- 1.11 micromol/day) was lower and daidzein (2.59 +/- 3.25 micromol/day) was higher than in western women, and both levels were comparable to those in Japanese women. Daily urinary excretion of genistein and apigenin were 1.09 +/- 0.912 and 0.48 +/- 0.40 micromol/day, respectively. In subjects with osteoporosis, urinary enterolactone was lower (P < 0.05) but apigenin was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than in the controls. BMD of L2-L4 correlated positively with urinary enterolactone (r = 0.388, P < 0.01), and BMD of the femoral neck and Ward's triangle correlated positively with urinary enterolactone (r = 0.271, P < 0.05 and r = 0.322, P < 0.05) but negatively with apigenin (r = -0.412, P < 0.01 and r = -0.395, P < 0.01). By multiple stepwise regression, the variables associated with spinal BMD were age, the amount of urinary apigenin and body mass index (BMI). The variables associated with femoral neck BMD were age and urinary apigenin.
Conclusions: From these results, we conclude that urinary phyto-oestrogens, especially enterolactone and apigenin, are related to BMD in Korean postmenopausal women. Our results also suggest the possibility that phyto-oestrogens have differential effects on bone density. Further studies are needed to clarify the exact biological roles of phyto-oestrogenic components on bone metabolism.