Genistein – “Estrogen” from Soybeans
Genistein is the main active ingredient in the “Medical Food” Fosteum. A “medical food” is a “natural supplement” of nutrients not commonly found in regular food, which is designed to treat a specific disease. Post-Menopausal Osteoporosis is the disease specified for Fosteum. A “medical food” must be prescribed by a physician.
Genestein is a natural isoflavone phyto-estrogen found in low concentrations in soybeans. A phyto-estrogen is a substance found in a plant which is similar to human estrogen. A phyto-estrogen can trick some estrogen receptors in a human into responding as if it were human estrogen. Other estrogen receptors may not be fooled or may be blocked.
Human studies in Italy showed better Bone Mineral Density at the spine and femoral neck in patients taking Genistein than in patients taking placebo (“sugar pills”). The slight increase, rather than decrease, was similar to what we get with Hormone Replacement Therapy. No human Fracture studies have been done with Genistein.
“Natural” phyto-estrogens are thought to possibly avoid the (uncommon) dangers of human estrogen. However, no study large enough or long enough to detect the low frquency of danger from human estrogen has ever been attempted with phyto-estrogens.
The old high-dose Hormone Replacement Therapy took over 10 years and millions of women to find a low risk of heart problems. The new low-dose HRT has had no such problems in millions of women for 15 years.
Do we believe that plant estrogen is safer and better for humans than human estrogen? Did God make a mistake when making human estrogen?
Jay Ginther, MD