Phytoestrogens for menopause?

Phytoestrogens are plant substances that have similar effects to oestrogen. The most important groups are isoflavones and lignans. Can phytoestrogens for menopause be helpful?

Good sources of isoflavones are chickpeas, soyabeans, red clover, beans, peas and lentils.

Good sources of lignans and flax seed, sesame, legumes, whole cereals and fruit.

They are available as supplements, but NICE advises that although isoflavones may help with hot flushes and night sweats, the supplements are not standardised for quality or in content. Generally women who have had an oestrogen positive breast cancer are advised to avoid phytoestrogen supplements.

There are no consistent studies demonstrating how effective isoflavones are to help with flushes and sweats. Japanese women have a diet high in isoflavones and seem to have lower rates of menopausal symptoms and lower rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, but is soya the reason?

Is it safe to eat isoflavones if you have had breast cancer? The evidence we have didn’t show a worse prognosis in women eating a soy rich diet, this is a helpful article if you would like more information.

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