Phytoestrogens oestrogen synthesis and breast cancer

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008 Feb;108(3-5):186-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.09.003. Epub 2007 Sep 7.


Phytoestrogens are used as 'natural' alternatives to HRT and, although epidemiological evidence implies that diets rich in phytoestrogens reduce the incidence of breast cancer, their weak oestrogenicity is also known to stimulate growth in experimental models of breast cancer. This review addresses the question as to how phytoestrogens may protect against breast cancer through their ability to bind preferentially to oestrogen receptor beta, inhibit enzymes that convert circulating steroid precursors into oestradiol and inhibit cell signalling pathways of growth factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Estrogens / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / physiopathology
  • Phytoestrogens / metabolism
  • Phytoestrogens / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Carcinogens
  • Estrogens
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Growth Factor