Usual consumption of plant foods containing phytoestrogens and sex hormone levels in postmenopausal women in Wisconsin

Nutr Cancer. 1998;30(3):207-12. doi: 10.1080/01635589809514665.


Consumption of phytoestrogens may reduce hormone-dependent cancer risk through alterations in the actions or metabolism of steroid hormones. Studies in humans of phytoestrogen-hormone interactions have been limited and inconsistent. Relations between the consumption of phytoestrogen-containing foods and serum sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin were studied in a population-based sample of postmenopausal women who participated in the Nutritional Factors in Eye Disease Study of the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Information on phytoestrogen-containing foods (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chili, dark bread, peas, and dried beans) was collected by interviewer-administered food-frequency questionnaires. Estrone, sex hormone-binding globulin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and total and free testosterone were measured. Analyses included 246 postmenopausal women not taking hormone replacements. Partial correlations between hormones and intake of phytoestrogen-containing foods were computed, with adjustment for age, body mass index, years since menopause, and total energy intake. Number of standard servings per week of whole-grain products from the dark bread group was inversely associated with total testosterone (r = -0.20, p = 0.002). Although not statistically significant, other hormones displayed similar inverse associations with dark bread consistent with a common metabolic pathway. Although the magnitude of association was small, the data are consistent with the possibility that consumption of some phytoestrogen-containing foods may affect levels of testosterone in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Postmenopause
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*
  • Wisconsin
  • Women's Health


  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations