Genistein-containing supplements may stop tamoxifen


Postmenopausal women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer often face an emotional roller coaster. Physicians prescribe tamoxifen to suppress the tumors and recommend against the use of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). While tamoxifen stops estrogen from stimulating breast cancer cells, it also can cause menopausal symptoms. Unknown to their physicians, some women turn to over-the-counter products containing isoflavones as an alternative to HRT to treat their menopausal symptoms.

Genistein often is identified as one of several desired isoflavones in soy products, including soy-enhanced drinks and dietary supplements. Dietary isoflavones also can be found in both subterranean and red clover supplements.

Isoflavones in soy are believed to be responsible for anti-cancer effects observed in numerous human and animal studies.

For example, in Asia, where cancer rates are low, people often consume diets rich in soy products that contain about 20 to 30 milligrams of isoflavones a day, Helferich said. However, many isoflavone-enhanced drinks and supplements now available in the United States may contain 30 to 150 milligrams per serving, and two or more servings a day are recommended on the labels, he added.


Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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