Decreasing levels of estrogens during menopause are associated with reduced bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Many women also experience bothersome vasomotor and vaginal symptoms during the menopausal transition. Results of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials have shown that both systemic estrogen therapy or hormone therapy (estrogen combined with a progestin) are useful to prevent bone loss, and they are the most effective treatment for such climacteric symptoms as hot flushes, sweating, vaginal dryness, and dyspareunia. Unfortunately, estrogen therapy and hormone therapy increase the risk of endometrial and breast cancer, respectively. The selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) result in positive estrogenic effects on bone, with no negative effects on the endometrium and breast but do not provide relief from postmenopausal symptoms. The combination of a SERM with estrogen as a tissue selective estrogen complex (TSEC) is a new strategy for the prevention of bone loss and the treatment of climacteric symptoms. This combination is particularly interesting from a clinical point of view, taking into account that estrogen alone did not increase breast cancer risk by the Women’s Health Initiative. TSEC is hypothesized to provide the benefits of estrogen-alone therapy, with an improved tolerability profile because the SERM component can make possible the elimination of progestin. The objective of this review was to critically evaluate the evidence from the reports published to date on the use of bazedoxifene (a third-generation SERM) in combination with conjugated estrogens in postmenopausal women. The conclusion is that effectively, the combination of bazedoxifene and conjugated estrogens may be a promising alternative to hormone therapy for the prevention of osteoporosis and the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms in non-hysterectomized postmenopausal women.
tissue selective estrogen complex; menopause; bone mineral density; bone turnover markers; climacteric symptoms
Lignans such as secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) in flaxseed, are metabolizes to bioactive mammalian lignans of END and ENL. Because mammalian lignans have chemical structural similarity to the natural estrogen, they are thought to behave like selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) and therefore have anticancer effect against hormone-related cancers. We isolated a series of lignan compounds, named as Vitexins, from the seed of Chinese herb Vitex Negundo.
We purified several Vitexin lignan compounds. Cytotoxic and antitumor effects were analyzed in cancer cells and in tumor xenograft models. In vivo metabolism of Vitexins was determined in rat.
Contrasts to the classical lignans, Vitexins were not metabolized to END and ENL. A mixture of Vitexins EVn-50 and purified Vitexin compound VB1 have cytotoxic effect on breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer cells and induces apoptosis with cleavage in PARP protein, up-regulation of Bax, and down-regulation of Bcl-2. This induction of apoptosis seems to be mediated by activation of caspases because inhibition of caspases activity significantly reduced induced apoptosis. We demonstrated a broad antitumor activity of EVn-50 on seven tumor xenograft models including breast, prostate, liver, and cervical cancers. Consistent with in vitro data, EVn-50 treatment induced apoptosis, down-regulated of Bcl-2, and up-regulated Bax in tumor xenografts.
Vitexin is a class of nature lignan compounds, whose action and anticancer effect is mediated by the mechanisms different from the classical lignans. Vitexin induced antitumor effect and cytotoxic activity is exerted through proapoptotic process, which is mediated by a decreased Bcl-2/Bax ratio and activation of caspases.
Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used by post-menopausal women for the relief of menopausal symptoms and the potential reduction of osteoporosis, HRT also increases their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. Since the majority of these effects are associated primarily with estrogen binding to only one of the estrogen receptors (ER), new assays are needed that can more efficiently evaluate ER-binding and identify ligands selective for ER-α and ER-β. High performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) was combined with ultrafiltration as a new method to investigate the relative binding of compounds to the ERs and to evaluate the structures of these estrogens. Mixtures of estradiol and six equine estrogens including equilin, equilenin, 8,9-dehydroestrone, and their 17β-hydroxyl derivatives were assayed simultaneously to determine their relative binding to human ER-α and ER-β. Estrogens containing a 17β-OH group were found to have higher relative affinities for the estrogen receptors than their ketone analogs. In addition, 17β-EN showed selectivity for binding to ER-β over ER-α. The results were compared to the IC50 values obtained by using a conventional radiolabled estradiol competitive binding assay. Finally, the utility of negative ion electrospray tandem mass spectrometry for the unambiguous identification these estrogen isomers was investigated. Several characteristic recyclization pathways during tandem mass spectrometry were identified, which might be useful for distinguishing related estrogens.
Case–control studies have reported that exogenous estrogen use is associated with increased risk of skin cancer. The effects of menopausal hormone therapy on incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma were evaluated in post hoc analyses of the Women’s Health Initiative randomized placebo-controlled hormone therapy trials of combined estrogen plus progestin (E + P) and estrogen only (E-alone).
Postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years were randomly assigned to conjugated equine estrogen (0.625 mg/d) plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (2.5 mg/d) or placebo in the E + P trial if they had an intact uterus (N = 16 608) or to conjugated equine estrogen alone or placebo in the E-alone trial if they had a hysterectomy (N =10 739); the mean follow-up was 5.6 and 7.1 years, respectively. Incident nonmelanoma skin cancers (n = 980 [E + P trial]; n = 820 [E-alone trial]) and melanomas (n = 57 [E + P trial]; n =38 [E-alone trial]) were ascertained by self-report. Incident cases of cutaneous malignant melanoma were confirmed by physician review of medical records. Incidences of nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma were compared between the two randomization groups within each trial using hazard ratios (HRs), with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and Wald statistic P values from Cox proportional hazards models. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Rates of incident nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma were similar between the active hormone (combined analysis of E + P and E-alone) and placebo groups (nonmelanoma skin cancer: HR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.89 to 1.07; melanoma: HR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.61 to 1.37). Results were similar for the E + P and E-alone trials when analyzed individually.
Menopausal hormone therapy did not affect overall incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer or melanoma. These findings do not support a role of menopausal estrogen, with or without progestin, in the development of skin cancer in postmenopausal women.
Hormone therapy is still used by millions of women for menopausal symptoms. Concerns regarding hormone therapy and breast cancer were initially based on case reports and retrospective case–control studies. However, recent results from large prospective cohort studies and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) randomized placebo-controlled hormone therapy trials have substantially changed concepts regarding how estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin influence breast cancer. The preponderance of observational studies suggested that estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin both increased the risk of breast cancer, with cancers commonly diagnosed at an early stage. However, substantially different results emerged from the WHI randomized hormone therapy trials. In the WHI trial evaluating estrogen plus progestin in postmenopausal women with an intact uterus, combined hormone therapy statistically significantly increased the risk of breast cancer and hindered breast cancer detection, leading to delayed diagnosis and a statistically significant increase in breast cancer mortality. By contrast, estrogen alone use by postmenopausal women with prior hysterectomy in the WHI trial did not substantially interfere with breast cancer detection and statistically significantly decreased the risk of breast cancer. Differential mammography usage patterns may explain differences between observational study and randomized trial results. In clinical practice, hormone therapy users have mammograms more frequently than nonusers, leading to more and earlier stage cancer detection. By contrast, in the WHI randomized trials, mammogram frequency was protocol mandated and balanced between comparison groups. Currently, the different effects of estrogen plus progestin vs estrogen alone on breast cancer are not completely understood.
Prospective studies have consistently found that postmenopausal breast cancer risk increases with circulating estrogens; however, findings from studies of estrogens and mammographic density (MD), an intermediate marker of breast cancer risk, have been inconsistent. We investigated the cross-sectional associations of urinary estrogens, and their 2-, 4-, and 16-hydroxylated metabolites with MD.
Postmenopausal women without breast cancer (n=194), ages 48-82 years, and reporting no current menopausal hormone therapy use were enrolled at a clinic in Western NY in 2005. Urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites were measured using mass spectrometry. Percent MD and dense area (cm2) were measured using computer-assisted analyses of digitized films. Linear regression models were used to estimate associations of log-transformed estrogen measures with MD while adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), parity, and past hormone therapy use.
Urinary concentrations of most individual estrogens and metabolites were not associated with MD; however, across the interdecile range of the ratio of parent estrogens (estrone and estradiol) to their metabolites, MD increased by 6.8 percentage points (p=0.02) and dense area increased by 10.3 cm2 (p=0.03). Across the interdecile ranges of the ratios of 2-, 4-, and 16-hydroxylation pathways to the parent estrogens, MD declined by 6.2 (p=0.03), 6.4 (p=0.04), and 5.7 (p=0.05) percentage points, respectively. All associations remained apparent in models without adjustment for BMI.
In this study of postmenopausal women, less extensive hydroxylation of parent estrogens was associated with higher MD.
Hydroxylation of estrogens may modulate postmenopausal breast cancer risk through a pathway involving MD.
Estrogens; metabolism; mammography; breast neoplasms; risk factors; human; female; middle-aged
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is more common in postmenopausal than premenopausal women, suggesting vascular protective effects of estrogen. Vascular estrogen receptors ERα, ERβ and a transmembrane estrogen-binding protein GPR30 have been described. Also, experimental studies have demonstrated vasodilator effects of estrogen on the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle and extracellular matrix. However, randomized clinical trials have not supported vascular benefits of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), possibly due to the subjects' advanced age and age-related changes in estrogen synthesis and metabolic pathways, the vascular ERs number, distribution and integrity, and the post-ER vascular signaling pathways. Current MHT includes natural estrogens such as conjugated equine estrogen, as well as synthetic and semi-synthetic estrogens. New estrogenic formulations and hormone combinations have been developed. Phytoestrogens is being promoted as an alternative MHT. Specific ER modulators (SERMs), and selective agonists for ERα such as PPT, ERβ such as DPN, and GPR30 such as G1 are being evaluated. In order to enhance the vascular effectiveness of MHT, its type, dose, route of administration and timing may need to be customized depending on the subject's age and pre-existing CVD. Also, the potential interaction of estrogen with progesterone and testosterone on vascular function may need to be considered in order to maximize the vascular benefits of MHT on senescent blood vessels and postmenopausal CVD.
sex hormones; progesterone; testosterone; phytoestrogens; estrogen receptor; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension
Epidemiological evidence has demonstrated a reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with cruciferous vegetable intake. Follow-up studies have attributed this protective activity to the metabolic products of glucosinolates, a class of secondary metabolites produced by crucifers. The metabolic products of glucoraphanin and glucobrassicin, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol respectively, have been the subject of intense investigation by cancer researchers. Sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol inhibit prostate cancer by both blocking initiation and suppressing prostate cancer progression in vitro and in vivo. Research has largely focused on the anti-initiation and cytoprotective effects of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol through induction of phases I and II detoxification pathways. With regards to suppressive activity, research has focused on the ability of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol to antagonize cell signaling pathways known to be dysregulated in prostate cancer. Recent investigations have characterized the ability of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol derivatives to modulate the activity of enzymes controlling the epigenetic status of prostate cancer cells. In this review, we will summarize the well-established, “classic” non-epigenetic targets of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, and highlight more recent evidence supporting these phytochemicals as epigenetic modulators for prostate cancer chemoprevention.
epigenetic; I3C; prostate cancer; sulforaphane
Lignans and their in vivo metabolites, especially enterolactone (ENL), have attracted substantial interest as potential chemopreventive agents for prostate cancer. Preclinical and clinical interventions performed with lignan-rich flaxseed that use surrogate biomarkers as endpoints suggest that lignans may attenuate prostate carcinogenesis in individuals with increased risk or with diagnosed cancer. No unequivocal prostate cancer risk reduction has been found for lignans in epidemiological studies, suggesting that lignan concentrations found in populations consuming a regular non-supplemented diet are not chemopreventive in prostate cancer. Presumably, the main obstacles in assessing the efficacy of food lignans is limited knowledge of the serum and tissue lignan concentrations required for the putative prevention. Further clinical studies performed with the purified compounds are required to substantiate a health claim.
lignan; phytoestrogen; diet; prostate cancer; health claim; surrogate biomarker
Epidemiological studies have shown that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is less common in pre-menopausal women (Pre-MW) compared to men of the same age or post-menopausal women (Post-MW), suggesting cardiovascular benefits of estrogen. Estrogen receptors (ERs) have been identified in the vasculature, and experimental studies have demonstrated vasodilator effects of estrogen/ER on the endothelium, vascular smooth muscle (VSM) and extracellular matrix. Several natural and synthetic estrogenic preparations have been developed for relief of menopausal vasomotor symptoms. However, whether menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is beneficial in postmenopausal CVD remains controversial. Despite reports of vascular benefits of MHT from observational and experimental studies, randomized clinical trials (RCTs), such as the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), have suggested that, contrary to expectations, MHT may increase the risk of CVD. These discrepancies could be due to age-related changes in sex hormone synthesis and metabolism, which would influence the effective dose of MHT and the sex hormone environment in Post-MW. Age-related changes in the vascular ER subtype, structure, expression, distribution, and post-ER signaling pathways in the endothelium and VSM, along with factors related to the design of RCTs, preexisting CVD condition, and structural changes in the blood vessels architecture have also been suggested as possible causes of MHT failure in CVD. Careful examination of these factors should help in identifying the causes of the changes in the vascular effects of estrogen with age. The sex hormone metabolic pathways, the active versus inactive estrogen metabolites, and their effects on vascular function, the mitochondria, the inflammatory process and angiogenesis should be further examined. Also, the genomic and non-genomic effects of estrogenic compounds should be viewed as integrated rather than discrete responses. The complex interactions between these factors highlight the importance of careful design of MHT RCTs, and the need of a more customized approach for each individual patient in order to enhance the vascular benefits of MHT in postmenopausal CVD.
estrogen; phytoestrogens; estrogen receptor; endothelium; vascular smooth muscle; hypertension; progesterone; testosterone
7-Hydroxymaitairesinol (7-HMR) is a naturally occurring plant lignan found in whole grains and the Norway spruce (Piciea abies). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the bioavailability of a proprietary 7-HMR product (HMRlignan, Linnea SA, Locarno, Switzerland) through measurement of lignan metabolites and metabolic precursors.
A single-blind, parallel, pharmacokinetic and dose-comparison study was conducted on 22 post-menopausal females not receiving hormone replacement therapy. Subjects were enrolled in either a 36 mg/d (low-dose) or 72 mg/d dose (high-dose) regimen for 8 weeks. Primary measured outcomes included plasma levels of 7-HMR and enterolactone (ENL), and single-dose pharmacokinetic analysis was performed on a subset of subjects in the low-dose group. Safety data and adverse event reports were collected as well as data on hot flash frequency and severity.
Pharmacokinetic studies demonstrated 7-HMR Cmax = 757.08 ng/ml at 1 hour and ENL Cmax = 4.8 ng/ml at 24 hours. From baseline to week 8, plasma 7-HMR levels increased by 191% in the low-dose group (p < 0.01) and by 1238% in the high-dose group (p < 0.05). Plasma ENL levels consistently increased as much as 157% from baseline in the low-dose group and 137% in the high-dose group. Additionally, the mean number of weekly hot flashes decreased by 50%, from 28.0/week to 14.3/week (p < 0.05) in the high-dose group. No significant safety issues were identified in this study.
The results demonstrate that HMRlignan is quickly absorbed into the plasma and is metabolized to ENL in healthy postmenopausal women. Clinically, the data demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in hot flash frequency. Doses up to 72 mg/d HMRlignan for 8 weeks were safe and well tolerated in this population.
lignans; 7-Hydroxymatairesinol; enterolactone; pharmacokinetics; bioavailability; hot flashes; postmenopausal women
Breast cancer risk has been associated with long-term estrogen exposure including traditional hormone therapy (HT, formally hormone replacement therapy). To avoid traditional HT and associated risks, women have been turning to botanical supplements such as black cohosh, red clover, licorice, hops, dong gui, and ginger to relieve menopausal symptoms despite a lack of efficacy evidence. The mechanisms of estrogen carcinogenesis involve both hormonal and chemical pathways. Botanical supplements could protect women from estrogen carcinogenesis by modulating key enzymatic steps [aromatase, P4501B1, P4501A1, catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging] in estradiol metabolism leading to estrogen carcinogenesis as outlined in Figure 1. This review summarizes the influence of popular botanical supplements used for women’s health on these key steps in the estrogen chemical carcinogenesis pathway, and suggests that botanical supplements may have added chemopreventive benefits by modulating estrogen metabolism.
To provide information and recommendations to women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer and their physicians regarding hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Control of menopausal symptoms, quality of life, prevention of osteoporosis, prevention of cardiovascular disease, risk of recurrence of breast cancer, risk of death from breast cancer.
Systematic review of English-language literature published from January 1990 to July 2001 retrieved from MEDLINE and CANCERLIT.
· Routine use of HRT (either estrogen alone or estrogen plus progesterone) is not recommended for women who have had breast cancer. Randomized controlled trials are required to guide recommendations for this group of women. Women who have had breast cancer are at risk of recurrence and contralateral breast cancer. The potential effect of HRT on these outcomes in women with breast cancer has not been determined in methodologically sound studies. However, in animal and in vitro studies, the development and growth of breast cancer is known to be estrogen dependent. Given the demonstrated increased risk of breast cancer associated with HRT in women without a diagnosis of breast cancer, it is possible that the risk of recurrence and contralateral breast cancer associated with HRT in women with breast cancer could be of a similar magnitude.
· Postmenopausal women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer who request HRT should be encouraged to consider alternatives to HRT. If menopausal symptoms are particularly troublesome and do not respond to alternative approaches, a well-informed woman may choose to use HRT to control these symptoms after discussing the risks with her physician. In these circumstances, both the dose and the duration of treatment should be minimized.
Internal validation within the Steering Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Care and Treatment of Breast Cancer; no external validation.
The steering committee was convened by Health Canada.
Phyto-oestrogens are plant compounds structurally similar to oestradiol, which have been proposed to have protective effects against breast cancer. The main class of phyto-oestrogens in the Western diet is lignans. Literature reports on the effect of lignans in breast cancer risk have been conflicting. We performed three separate meta-analyses to examine the relationships between (i) plant lignan intake, (ii) enterolignan exposure and (iii) blood enterolactone levels and breast cancer risk. Medline, BIOSIS and EMBASE databases were searched for publications up to 30 September 2008, and 23 studies were included in the random effects meta-analyses. Overall, there was little association between high plant lignan intake and breast cancer risk (11 studies, combined odds ratio (OR): 0.93, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.83–1.03, P=0.15), but this association was subjected to marked heterogeneity (I2=44%). Restricting the analysis to post-menopausal women, high levels of plant lignan intake were associated with reduced breast cancer risk (7 studies, combined OR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.78, 0.93, P<0.001) and heterogeneity was markedly reduced (I2=0%). High enterolignan exposure was also associated with breast cancer (5 studies, combined OR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.57, 0.92, P=0.009) but, again, there was marked heterogeneity (I2=63%). No association was found with blood enterolactone levels (combined OR: 0.82, 95% CI: 0.59–1.14, P=0.24). In conclusion, plant lignans may be associated with a small reduction in post-menopausal breast cancer risk, but further studies are required to confirm these results.
plant lignans; enterolignans; breast cancer risk
Estrogen deficiency is a major risk factor for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been rampantly used to recompense for the bone loss, but the procedure is coupled with severe adverse effects. Hence, there is a boost in the production of newer synthetic products to ward off the effects of menopause-related osteoporosis. As of today, there are several prescription products available for the treatment of postmenopause osteoporosis; most of these are estrogenic agents and combination products. Nevertheless, in view of the lack of effect and/or toxicity of these products, majority of the postmenopausal women are now fascinated by highly publicized natural products. This is an offshoot of the generalized consensus that these products are more effective and free from any adverse effects. Recently, certain plant-derived natural products, mostly phytoestrogens (isoflavones, lignans, coumestanes, stilbenes, flavonoids) and many more novel estrogen-like compounds in plants have been immensely used to prevent menopause-related depletion in bone mineral density (BMD). Although, a number of papers are published on menopause-related general symptoms, sexual dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, colon, and breast cancers, there is paucity of literature on the accompanying osteoporosis and its treatment. In view of the controversies on synthetic hormones and drugs and drift of a major population of patients toward natural drugs, it was found worthwhile to investigate if these drugs are suitable to be used in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Preparation of this paper is an attempt to review the (a) epidemiology of postmenopausal osteoporosis, (b) treatment modalities of postmenopausal osteoporosis by hormones and synthetic drugs and the associated drawbacks and adverse effects, and (c) prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis by phytoestrogens, their drawbacks and toxicity. It is apparent that both the categories of treatment are useful and both have adverse effects, but the plant products are nonscientific and hence are not advised to be used till more studies are undertaken to ensure that the benefits clearly outweigh the risk, in addition to recognition by Food and Drug Administration.
Menopause; osteoporosis; phytoestrogens
Following the release of the 2002 report of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial of estrogen plus progestin, the use of menopausal hormone therapy in the United States decreased substantially. Subsequently, the incidence of breast cancer also dropped, suggesting a cause-and-effect relation between hormone treatment and breast cancer. However, the cause of this decrease remains controversial.
We analyzed the results of the WHI randomized clinical trial — in which one study group received 0.625 mg of conjugated equine estrogens plus 2.5 mg of medroxy-progesterone acetate daily and another group received placebo — and examined temporal trends in breast-cancer diagnoses in the WHI observational-study cohort. Risk factors for breast cancer, frequency of mammography, and time-specific incidence of breast cancer were assessed in relation to combined hormone use.
In the clinical trial, there were fewer breast-cancer diagnoses in the group receiving estrogen plus progestin than in the placebo group in the initial 2 years of the study, but the number of diagnoses increased over the course of the 5.6-year intervention period. The elevated risk decreased rapidly after both groups stopped taking the study pills, despite a similar frequency of mammography. In the observational study, the incidence of breast cancer was initially about two times as high in the group receiving menopausal hormones as in the placebo group, but this difference in incidence decreased rapidly in about 2 years, coinciding with year-to-year reductions in combined hormone use. During this period, differences in the frequency of mammography between the two groups were unchanged.
The increased risk of breast cancer associated with the use of estrogen plus progestin declined markedly soon after discontinuation of combined hormone therapy and was unrelated to changes in frequency of mammography.
We have established in human breast cancer cells that indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a promising anti-cancer phytochemical from Brassica vegetables, ablates ERα expression by stimulating the Rbx-1 E3 ligase mediated degradation of ERα protein and disruption of a cross-regulatory positive feedback loop involving ERα and the GATA3 transcription factor.
Estrogen receptor (ER)α is a critical target of therapeutic strategies to control the proliferation of hormone-dependent breast cancers. Preferred clinical options have significant adverse side effects that can lead to treatment resistance due to the persistence of active estrogen receptors. We have established the cellular mechanism by which indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a promising anticancer phytochemical from Brassica vegetables, ablates ERα expression, and we have uncovered a critical role for the GATA3 transcription factor in this indole-regulated cascade. I3C-dependent activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) initiates Rbx-1 E3 ligase-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of ERα protein. I3C inhibits endogenous binding of ERα with the 3′-enhancer region of GATA3 and disrupts endogenous GATA3 interactions with the ERα promoter, leading to a loss of GATA3 and ERα expression. Ectopic expression of GATA3 has no effect on I3C-induced ERα protein degradation but does prevent I3C inhibition of ERα promoter activity, demonstrating the importance of GATA3 in this I3C-triggered cascade. Our preclinical results implicate I3C as a novel anticancer agent in human cancers that coexpress ERα, GATA3, and AhR, a combination found in a large percentage of breast cancers but not in other critical ERα target tissues essential to patient health.
Lignans are plant-based phytoestrogens with both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties that may be important for breast carcinogenesis. Retrospective studies have observed decreased breast cancer risk associated with high circulating enterolactone concentrations, a biomarker of lignan intake, but results from prospective studies are conflicting.
To prospectively examine this association, we measured plasma enterolactone levels in 802 breast cancer cases and 802 matched controls nested among predominantly premenopausal women in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII) cohort. We used conditional logistic regression and polytomous logistic regression models, adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, to calculate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Compared to women with enterolactone concentrations ≤ 4nmol/L, the multivariate adjusted RRs for breast cancer were 1.18 (95% CI: 0.86–1.62), 0.91 (95% CI: 0.66–1.25), and 0.96 (95% CI: 0.70–1.33) for women with enterolactone levels in the 2nd to the 4th quartiles, respectively; Ptrend=0.60. Results were similar across tumors defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status. Among premenopausal women with follicular estradiol levels below the median (<47 pg/mL), women in the highest category of enterolactone levels had a 51% lower breast cancer risk compared to those in the lowest category (95% CI: 0.27–0.91); Ptrend=0.02. No association was observed among women with high follicular estradiol levels (≥47 pg/mL), (comparable RR=1.39, 95% CI: 0.73–2.65; Pinteraction=0.02).
We did not observe an overall association between plasma enterolactone and breast cancer risk in a large nested case-control study of US women. However, a significant inverse association was observed among premenopausal women with low follicular estradiol levels, suggesting that enterolactone may be important in a low estrogen environment. This should be confirmed in future studies.
enterolactone; lignan; breast cancer; biomarker; prospective study; premenopausal
Hormonal effects of soy and isoflavones have been investigated in numerous trials with equivocal findings. We aimed to systematically assess the effects of soy and isoflavones on circulating estrogen and other hormones in pre- and post-menopausal women.
The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE (plus reviews and experts) were searched to December 2007. Inclusion of randomized or residential crossover trials of soy or isoflavones for 4 or more weeks on estrogens, SHBG, FSH, LH, progesterone and thyroid hormones in women was assessed independently in duplicate. Six percent of papers assessed were included. Data concerning participants, interventions, outcomes, potential effect modifiers and trial quality characteristics were extracted independently in duplicate.
Forty-seven studies (11 of pre-, 35 of post- and 1 of perimenopausal women) were included. In premenopausal women, meta-analysis suggested that soy or isoflavone consumption did not affect primary outcomes estradiol, estrone or SHBG concentrations, but significantly reduced secondary outcomes FSH and LH [by ∼20% using standardized mean difference (SMD), P = 0.01 and 0.05, respectively]. Menstrual cycle length was increased by 1.05 days (95% CI 0.13, 1.97, 10 studies). In post-menopausal women, there were no statistically significant effects on estradiol, estrone, SHBG, FSH or LH, although there was a small statistically non-significant increase in total estradiol with soy or isoflavones (∼14%, SMD, P = 0.07, 21 studies).
Isoflavone-rich soy products decrease FSH and LH in premenopausal women and may increase estradiol in post-menopausal women. The clinical implications of these modest hormonal changes remain to be determined.
soy foods; isoflavones; estradiol; sex hormone-binding globulin; gonadotrophins
Phytoestrogens have been shown to exert anti-estrogenic and estrogenic effects in some tissues, including the breast. However, only a few studies have evaluated their role in endometrial cancer risk. We evaluated this association in a population-based case-control study in New Jersey. A total of 424 cases and 398 controls completed an interview, including a food frequency questionnaire with supplemental questions for phytoestrogen foods. Risk estimates were derived using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for major risk factors for endometrial cancer. There was some suggestion of a decreased risk with quercetin intake (OR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.41–1.01 for the highest compared to the lowest quartile; p for trend: 0.02). We found limited evidence of an association with any of the lignans evaluated, total lignans, coumestrol, individual isoflavones, total isoflavones, or total phytoestrogens. However, there was some suggestion of an inverse association with total isoflavone intake limited to lean women (BMI <25) (OR for the highest tertile: 0.50, 95% CI: 0.25–0.98) and those with a waist-to-hip ratio ≤0.85 (OR: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.33–1.05). There was no evidence of effect modification by HRT use. This study suggests a reduction in endometrial cancer risk with quercetin intake and with isoflavone intake in lean women.
Endometrial neoplasms; phytoestrogens; isoflavones; lignans; quercetin; diet
We re-evaluate the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) findings and their implications for clinical practice. Menopausal hormone therapy (HT) was effective for relief of vasomotor symptoms, and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) tended to be reduced in women close to menopause compared to the increased risk in women more distant from menopause. In recently menopausal women, short-term absolute risks of stroke and venous thromboembolism were small. Estrogen plus progestin therapy, but not estrogen therapy (ET), increased the risk of breast cancer, with a suggestion of greater risk when initiated close to the menopause. Menopausal HT increased the risk of CHD in women more than 20 years distant from menopause, particularly in women with vasomotor symptoms. It remains unknown whether the suggestive benefit for CHD in younger women will translate into benefits or harms if menopausal HT is continued into older ages. Based on WHI data, the use of menopausal HT for fewer than 5 years is a reasonable option for the relief of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms. The risks seen with EPT suggest careful periodic re-assessment of the ongoing therapy needs for women taking estrogen plus progestin therapy. The more favorable profile of ET allows for individualized management with respect to duration of use when symptoms persist. For both ET and estrogen plus progestin therapy the baseline risk profile of the individual woman needs to be taken into account. Menopausal HT is not suitable for long-term prevention of CHD given risks of stroke, venous thromboembolism, and breast cancer (for estrogen plus progestin therapy) found in both clinical trials and in observational studies.
The Women’s Health Initiative found that combination estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy increases breast cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, which compelled many women to seek herbal alternatives such as black cohosh extract (BCE) to relieve their menopausal symptoms. While several clinical trials document the efficacy of BCE in alleviating menopausal symptoms, preclinical studies to determine how BCE works have yielded conflicting results. Part of this is because there is not a universally accepted method to standardize the dose of black cohosh triterpenes, the presumed active ingredients in the extract. Although the mechanism by which BCE relieves symptoms is unknown, several hypotheses have been proposed: it acts 1) as a selective estrogen receptor modulator, 2) through serotonergic pathways, 3) as an antioxidant, or 4) on inflammatory pathways. We found that while the most prominent triterpene in BCE, 23-epi-26-deoxyactein, suppresses cytokine-induced nitric oxide production in brain microglial cells, the whole BCE extract actually enhanced this pathway. A variety of activities have been reported for black cohosh and its compounds, but the absorption and tissue distribution of these compounds is unknown.
Black cohosh; botanical; complementary and alternative medicine; estrogen; inflammatory; nitric oxide
Long-term estrogen deficiency increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women. Menopausal hormone therapy containing estrogens might prevent these conditions, but its prolonged use increases the risk of breast cancer, as wells as endometrial cancer if used without progestins. Animal studies indicate that beneficial effects of estrogens in adipose tissue and adverse effects on mammary gland and uterus are mediated by estrogen receptor alpha (ERα). One strategy to improve the safety of estrogens to prevent/treat obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is to develop estrogens that act as agonists in adipose tissue, but not in mammary gland and uterus. We considered plant extracts, which have been the source of many pharmaceuticals, as a source of tissue selective estrogens. Extracts from two plants, Glycyrrhiza uralensis (RG) and Pueraria montana var. lobata (RP) bound to ERα, activated ERα responsive reporters, and reversed weight gain and fat accumulation comparable to estradiol in ovariectomized obese mice maintained on a high fat diet. Unlike estradiol, RG and RP did not induce proliferative effects on mammary gland and uterus. Gene expression profiling demonstrated that RG and RP induced estradiol-like regulation of genes in abdominal fat, but not in mammary gland and uterus. The compounds in extracts from RG and RP might constitute a new class of tissue selective estrogens to reverse weight gain, fat accumulation and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.
Many women experience bothersome vasomotor and vaginal symptoms during the menopausal transition. Decreasing levels of estrogens during menopause are also associated with reduced bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Combined estrogen/progestin therapy (hormone therapy) effectively treats menopausal symptoms and prevents bone loss, but has been associated with some safety and tolerability concerns. A novel menopausal therapy is the tissue selective estrogen complex, which pairs a selective estrogen receptor modulator with one or more estrogens. In preclinical studies, the tissue selective estrogen complex partnering bazedoxifene (BZA) with conjugated estrogens (CE) antagonized stimulation of breast and endometrial tissue, reduced vasomotor instability, and preserved bone mass in rat and mouse models. The specific attributes seen with BZA/CE were different from those observed with other selective estrogen receptor modulator/estrogen pairings. BZA/CE has undergone clinical evaluation in the Phase III Selective estrogens, Menopause, And Response to Therapy (SMART) trials in postmenopausal women with an intact uterus. Of the various doses of BZA/CE evaluated, BZA 20 mg/CE 0.45 mg and 0.625 mg were associated with a low incidence of endometrial hyperplasia (<1%) similar to placebo, and showed significant improvements in hot flushes and vulvar/vaginal symptoms and increases in bone mineral density. BZA 20 mg/CE 0.45 mg and 0.625 mg were associated with a low incidence of breast-related adverse events and demonstrated no difference from placebo in age-related changes in mammographic breast density. Both BZA/ CE doses showed a favorable tolerability profile, with no increases in uterine bleeding or breast tenderness, and had positive effects on metabolic parameters and quality of life. BZA/CE may be a promising alternative to hormone therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis in nonhysterectomized postmenopausal women.
tissue selective estrogen complex; bazedoxifene; conjugated estrogens; menopause; osteoporosis; vasomotor symptoms
Soy isoflavones, structurally similar to endogenous estrogens, may affect breast cancer through both hormonally-mediated and non-hormonally related mechanisms. Although the effects of soy are not well understood, some breast cancer survivors increase their soy intake post-diagnosis in attempt to improve their prognosis. Therefore, we examined the role of soy isoflavone intake and the risk of breast cancer recurrence by hormone receptor status, menopausal status, and tamoxifen therapy.
Materials and methods
A cohort of 1954 female breast cancer survivors, diagnosed during 1997–2000, was prospective followed for 6.31 years and 282 breast cancer recurrences were ascertained. Isoflavone intake was assessed by mailing modified Block and supplemental soy food frequency questionnaires to participants, on average 23 months post-diagnosis. Risk of breast cancer recurrence, measured by hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), was estimated using multivariable delayed-entry Cox proportional hazards models.
Suggestive trends for a reduced risk of cancer recurrence were observed with increasing quintiles of daidzein and glycetin intake compared to no intake among postmenopausal women (P for trend: P = .08 for daidzein, P = .06 for glycetin) and among tamoxifen users (P = .10 for daidzein, P = .05 for glycetin). Among postmenopausal women treated with tamoxifen, there was an approximately 60% reduction in breast cancer recurrence comparing the highest to the lowest daidzein intakes (>1453 micrograms (µg)/day versus < 7.7 µg/day) (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.21–0.79, P = .008).
Soy isoflavones consumed at levels comparable to those in Asian populations may reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in women receiving tamoxifen therapy and moreover, appears not to interfere with tamoxifen efficacy. Further confirmation is required in other large prospective studies before recommendations regarding soy intake can be issued to breast cancer survivors.
Breast Neoplasms; Daidzein; Genistein; Isoflavones; Neoplasm Recurrence; Local; Postmenopause; Receptors; Estrogen; Soy Foods; Tamoxifen