Androgens are required to maintain the integrity of the prostate and the survival of androgen dependent epithelial cells within the gland. Anti-androgens are the primary treatment strategy for non-localized prostate cancer, but ultimately fail over time with the development of androgen independent tumors. Estrogens affect the growth and development of the prostate and may affect the development of prostate cancer. Because of the side effects of estrogen treatment alternative therapies include the use of phytoestrogens as chemopreventative and chemotherapeutic treatment modalities. Phytoestrogens, can cause growth arrest and in some cases apoptosis in prostate cancer cells in vivo and in vitro. This may be due to the estrogenic properties of the compounds or alternative mechanisms of action. A number of phytoestrogens have been shown to have anti-androgenic effects and anti-oxidant activities. Other mechanisms include inhibition of 5α- reductase, 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, aromatase, tyrosine specific protein kinases and DNA topoisomerase II. This review examines the possible relation between phytoestrogens and prostate cancer and their possible use in prostate cancer prevention or management.
Keywords: phytoestrogens, prostate cancer, estrogen receptor, flavonoids, lignans, stilbenes, chemoprevention, chemotherapy
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