Phytoestrogens and other Botanicals: On the Problems of Evidence-based Evaluation
Sergei V. Jargin
Affiliation: Clementovski per 6-82, 115184 Moscow, Russia.
Soy is the principal plant that produces phytoestrogens, named so because they bind to the estrogen receptors,
however weakly compared to the estrogens. Recent reviews concluded that there is no convincing evidence in favor of alleviation
of menopausal symptoms by phytoestrogens. However, some studies suggest their efficacy. The question is discussed
here, whether vegetable analogues should be used for replacement therapy instead of physiological hormones, also
because phytoestrogen preparations often contain a mixture of different components. There is a controversy: phytoestrogens
are used to compensate for estrogen deficiency in menopause; but their estrogenic potential does not prevent from
the use of soy in infant formulas and other foodstuffs. Feminizing effect of phytoestrogens and soy products may be subtle,
detectable only in large populations. This matter should be clarified by independent research, which can be of importance
for the future of soy in agriculture. Furthermore a tendency to present placebos and substances with unproven effects
in the guise of evidence-based medications is discussed. In conclusion, research quality and possible influence by the
industry should be taken into account defining inclusion criteria for studies into meta-analyses and reviews. The article
presented patents discussion relevant to the article.
Keywords: Phytoestrogens, soybean, menopause, atherosclerosis, placebo, evidence-based medicine.
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