Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab


  • Valerie Speirs
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_4565-2


Phytoestrogens are natural chemicals of plant origin which have similar action to the mammalian hormone estrogen.


Phytoestrogens are nonsteroidal polyphenolic compounds. They are found naturally in many edible plants and have structural similarity to the mammalian steroid hormone 17β-estradiol (Fig. 1). This permits binding to estrogen receptors (ERs), but they have a much higher affinity for ERβ than ERα. Based on their chemical structure, phytoestrogens can be broadly divided into four distinct categories: the isoflavones ( genistein, daidzein, biochanin A), the lignans (enterolactone, enterodiol), the coumestans (coumestrol), and the stilbenes ( resveratrol).


Breast Cancer Growth Stimulatory Effect Pinto Bean Plant Lignan Systemic Estrogen 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leeds Institute of Molecular MedicineUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK