Plant extracts that act in the body like weak estrogens.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012
phyto-oestrogensA range of naturally-occurring oestrogen-like substances derived from plants and present in the diet. Phyto-oestrogens have anticancer properties. Research has shown, for instance, that the risk of breast cancer is substantially lower in women with high levels of phyto-oestrogens, as measured by urinary secretion of these substances, than in those with a low intake. The main phyto-oestrogens are isoflavonoids (which are high in soya products) and lignans (which are high in whole grains, fruit, vegetables and berries). It has been found that the phyto-oestrogen genistein, found in soya, binds preferentially to the oestrogen receptors occurring mainly in the cardiovascular system rather than in those in the breast and uterus. This has encouraged the hope that phyto-oestrogens might be valuable in controlling atherosclerosis and osteoporosis without increasing the risk of cancer.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005