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Soy consumption could help prevent prostate cancer and male pattern baldness

CINCINNATI -- A team of scientists has discovered that a little-known molecule created in the intestine when soy is digested is a natural and powerful blocker of a potent male hormone involved in prostate cancer and male pattern baldness. In fact, the molecule, equol, completely stops in its tracks the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which normally stimulates prostate growth and causes male pattern baldness.

"This molecule is remarkable," says Kenneth Setchell, PhD, director of Clinical Mass Spectrometry at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, who first identified equol in humans 20 years ago. "These findings are of immense clinical importance because blocking the action of the potent androgen (male hormone) DHT has been one of the holy grails of the pharmaceutical industry as a strategy for treating prostate cancer and other related diseases. This natural metabolite made from soy isoflavones, which are found in high amounts in soybeans, does this very effectively."

The study, which tested the response to equol in rats, was conducted at Colorado State University, Brigham Young University, and Cincinnati Children's and appears in the April edition of Biology of Reproduction.

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has developed drugs that inhibit a certain enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. Unfortunately, these drugs have side effects. Equol, on the other hand, doesn't prevent DHT from being made but prevents it from functioning. It puts "handcuffs" on DHT, preventing it from binding to the androgen receptor and thereby preventing the prostate from growing. This may be particularly important for men who have been diagnosed with either an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) or cancer of the prostate.

"Directly binding and inactivating DHT without influencing testosterone gives equol the ability to reduce many of the harmful effects of androgens without affecting the beneficial on
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Contact: Jim Feuer
jim.feuer@cchmc.org
513-636-4656
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
29-Mar-2004


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