Alcoholic beverages as a source of estrogens

Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):220-7.


Alcoholic beverages contain not only alcohol but also numerous other substances (i.e., congeners) that may contribute to the beverages' physiological effects. Plants used to produce alcoholic beverages contain estrogenlike substances (i.e., phytoestrogens). Observations that men with alcoholic cirrhosis often show testicular failure and symptoms of feminization have suggested that alcoholic beverages may contain biologically active phytoestrogens as congeners. Biochemical analyses have identified several phytoestrogens in the congeners of bourbon, beer, and wine. Studies using subjects who produced no estrogen themselves (i.e., rats whose ovaries had been removed and postmenopausal women) demonstrated that phytoestrogens in alcoholic beverage congeners exerted estrogenlike effects in both animals and humans. Those effects were observed even at moderate drinking levels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects
  • Alcoholic Beverages / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Phytoestrogens / adverse effects
  • Phytoestrogens / chemistry*
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*


  • Phytoestrogens