Phytoestrogens are a diverse group of plant-derived compounds that structurally or functionally mimic mammalian estrogens and show potential benefits for human health. The number of articles published on phytoestrogens has risen dramatically in the past couple decades. Further research continues to demonstrate the biological complexity of phytoestrogens, which belong to several different chemical classes and act through diverse mechanisms. This paper discusses the classification of phytoestrogens, methods of identification, their proposed mechanisms of action and botanical sources for phytoestrogens. The effects of phytoestrogens on breast and prostate cancers, cardiovascular disease, menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis will also be examined including research on benefits and risks.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.