Genistein aglycone, one of the soy isoflavones, has been reported to be beneficial in the treatment of menopausal vasomotor symptoms, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as in a variety of cancers. However, issues of potential harm on thyroid function resulting from soy isoflavones consumption have been raised. Much of the evidence for the goitrogenic effects of isoflavones is derived from experimental in vitro and in vivo studies. Goitrogenic effects were also noted in infants fed non-iodine-fortified, soy-based formula, a problem that was easily solved with iodine fortification. Recent studies suggest that genistein shows a good profile of safety on the thyroid although definitive conclusions have not reached. The aim of this brief review is to summarize and better clarify the effects of genistein on human thyroid health.
Keywords: genistein; isoflavones; safety; soy; thyroid.