Benefits and Harms of Phytoestrogen Consumption in Breast Cancer Survivors


Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common malignant neoplasm and the second most common causeof 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 reliefof their menopausal symptoms. Whereas hot flashes are detected in nearly half of postmenopausal women witha relatively high frequency and severity, botanic sources of estrogens have been proposed as an alternativetreatment. Nevertheless, estrogenic properties of these compounds suggest possibility of stimulating cancerrecurrence or worsening prognosis in survivors. As well, effects in improving vasomotor climacteric changes iscontroversial. Many studies have considered the subject, some focusing on efficacy of phytoestrogens for controlof menopausal symptoms, and others discussing effects of these compounds on breast cancer outcome in termsof survival or recurrence. The present article is a concise review of the effects of consumption of phytoestrogenson menopausal symptoms, namely hot flashes, and breast cancer recurrence and mortality in survivors of thedisease. Overall, the major part of the current existing literature is in favor of positive effects of phytoestrogenson breast cancer prognosis, but the efficacy on menopausal symptoms is probably minimal at the best.