Isoflavones (Salem Health: Cancer)
Cancers treated or prevented: Breast, prostate, and endometrial cancers, although no conclusive evidence exists
Delivery routes: Oral by diet, pill, or capsule
How these compounds work: Isoflavones occur in foods bound to sugar in the form of glycosides. After ingestion, the glycosides are digested in the small intestine with the help of bacteria, releasing the active isoflavones. The isoflavones are absorbed and bound to plasma proteins for transport in the blood. There are two forms of estrogen receptors. Alpha receptors are predominantly found in reproductive tissue (uterus, breast, and ovaries), while beta receptors are predominant in other tissues. Isoflavones bind with greatest affinity to beta receptors, while the estrogen hormone principally targets the alpha receptor. When isoflavones bind to estrogen receptors in the breast, endometrium, or prostate (in place of estrogen), they may help prevent cancer by inhibiting activation of the receptor and the resultant growth-signaling process.
Isoflavones are found naturally in legume plants. Soybeans contain the isoflavones genistein and daidzein, which are the most common active isoflavones in human foods. They are also known as phytoestrogens, since they are similar in structure to estrogen hormones produced in the human body and demonstrate weak estrogenic activity.
Many claims have been made regarding beneficial...
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