Phytoestrogens and Osteoporosis

The Role of Phytoestrogens in the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis in Ovarian Hormone Deficiency

Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma []

Ovarian hormone deficiency is a major risk factor for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is perhaps the most effective treatment, as it has been demonstrated to reduce both the rate of bone loss and risk of fracture, including hip fracture. However, not all women who may benefit from HRT are willing to initiate this treatment due to fear of cancer and contraindications. Other therapeutic agents currently available are also associated with certain adverse effects. As a result, postmenopausal women are more inclined to use natural remedies to alleviate postmenopausal symptoms and help reduce their risk for chronic diseases such as osteoporosis. Recent reports support the notion that certain bioactive constituents, e.g., phytoestrogens in plants, play a role in maintaining or improving skeletal health. The main consumable plant sources of phytoestrogens include isoflavones and lignans found mainly in soybeans and flaxseed, respectively. Although this paper primarily focuses on the effects of soy protein or its isoflavones on bone, additional statements regarding the role of flaxseed and dried plums, a rich source of polyphenols, with respect to bone will be made.

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