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Benefits and Harms of Phytoestrogen Consumption in Breast Cancer Survivors

  • Alipour, Sadaf (Department of Surgery, Arash Women's Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Jafari-Adli, Shahrzad (Obesity and Eating Habits Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Molecular - Cellular Sciences Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Eskandari, Amirhossein (Deputy of Management and Resource Development, Ministry of Health and Medical Education)
  • Published : 2015.04.29

Abstract

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common malignant neoplasm and the second most common cause of cancer death in women. This malignancy is recognized to be estrogen-dependent and due to this feature, hormone replacement therapy is regarded as potentially dangerous in breast cancer survivors who seek relief of their menopausal symptoms. Whereas hot flashes are detected in nearly half of postmenopausal women with a relatively high frequency and severity, botanic sources of estrogens have been proposed as an alternative treatment. Nevertheless, estrogenic properties of these compounds suggest possibility of stimulating cancer recurrence or worsening prognosis in survivors. As well, effects in improving vasomotor climacteric changes is controversial. Many studies have considered the subject, some focusing on efficacy of phytoestrogens for control of menopausal symptoms, and others discussing effects of these compounds on breast cancer outcome in terms of survival or recurrence. The present article is a concise review of the effects of consumption of phytoestrogens on menopausal symptoms, namely hot flashes, and breast cancer recurrence and mortality in survivors of the disease. Overall, the major part of the current existing literature is in favor of positive effects of phytoestrogens on breast cancer prognosis, but the efficacy on menopausal symptoms is probably minimal at the best.

Keywords

Breast;cancer;climacteric;estrogens;menopause;neoplasm;phytoestrogens;tamoxifen

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