Lower serum oestrogen concentrations associated with faster intestinal transit

Br J Cancer. 1997;76(3):395-400. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1997.397.


Increased fibre intake has been shown to reduce serum oestrogen concentrations. We hypothesized that fibre exerts this effect by decreasing the time available for reabsorption of oestrogens in the colon. We tested this in volunteers by measuring changes in serum oestrogen levels in response to manipulation of intestinal transit times with senna and loperamide, then comparing the results with changes caused by wheat bran. Forty healthy premenopausal volunteers were placed at random into one of three groups. The first group took senna for two menstrual cycles then, after a washout period, took wheat bran, again for two menstrual cycles. The second group did the reverse. The third group took loperamide for two menstrual cycles. At the beginning and end of each intervention a 4-day dietary record was kept and whole-gut transit time was measured; stools were taken for measurement of pH and beta-glucuronidase activity and blood for measurement of oestrone and oestradiol and their non-protein-bound fractions and of oestrone sulphate. Senna and loperamide caused the intended alterations in intestinal transit, whereas on wheat bran supplements there was a trend towards faster transit. Serum oestrone sulphate fell with wheat bran (mean intake 19.8 g day(-1)) and with senna; total- and non-protein-bound oestrone fell with senna. No significant changes in serum oestrogens were seen with loperamide. No significant changes were seen in faecal beta-glucuronidase activity. Stool pH changed only with senna, in which case it fell. In conclusion, speeding up intestinal transit can lower serum oestrogen concentrations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cathartics
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Estrone / analogs & derivatives
  • Estrone / blood
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Loperamide / pharmacology
  • Menstruation
  • Senna Extract


  • Cathartics
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Estrogens
  • Estrone
  • Estradiol
  • Loperamide
  • Senna Extract
  • estrone sulfate