Phytoestrogen consumption and breast cancer risk in a multiethnic population: The bay area breast cancer study

Pamela L. Horn-Ross, Esther M. John, Marion Lee, Susan L Stewart, Jocelyn Koo, Lori C. Sakoda, Amy C. Shiau, Judy Goldstein, Patricia Davis, Eliseo J. Perez-Stable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


Research on the relation between phytoestrogens and breast cancer risk has been limited in scope. Most epidemiologic studies have involved Asian women and have examined the effects of traditional soy foods (e.g., tofu), soy protein, or urinary excretion of phytoestrogens. The present study extends this research by examining the effects of a spectrum of phytoestrogenic compounds on breast cancer risk in non-Asian US women. African-American, Latina, and White women aged 35-79 years, who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1995 and 1998, were compared with women selected from the general population via random digit dialing. Interviews were conducted with 1,326 cases and 1,657 controls. Usual intake of specific phytoestrogenic compounds was assessed via a food frequency questionnaire and a newly developed nutrient database. Phytoestrogen intake was not associated with breast cancer risk (odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.80, 1.3 for the highest vs. lowest quartile). Results were similar for pre- and postmenopausal women, for women in each ethnic group, and for all seven phytoestrogenic compounds studied. Phytoestrogens appear to have little effect on breast cancer risk at the levels commonly consumed by non-Asian US women: an average intake equivalent to less than one serving of tofu per week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Ethnic groups
  • Isoflavones
  • Lignans
  • Soybeans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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