Genistein is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is derived from various plant sources. The chemical compound has attracted a lot of research work due to its ability to be used in the management of cancer and cardiovascular disorders. The major compound that is present is soy.
It is a phytoestrogen, which is an estrogen-like compound that is found plants. Two major types of phytoestrogens are in existence, and they include the isoflavones and the lignans. The most abundant source of isoflavones is soy. The most abundant form of isoflavones that is found in soy is genistein.
Most isoflavones present in plants exist in the glycosylated form. However, those that are unglycosylated are extracted through a series of the methods that begins with the addition of the enzyme beta-glucosidase.
After the enzyme has been added, soybeans are treated with an acid before they are put through solvent extraction. The solvent extraction can be substituted with chemical synthesis.
How Does Genistein Work?
The chemical compound Genistein works through two primary ways. The first one involves decreasing the activities of estrogen in the body, and the second one includes lowering the effects of estrogen.
The chemical compound exerts these effects by binding to the estrogen receptors found inside the body. Once it is linked to the estrogen receptors, genistein stimulates those receptors.
However, their influence on the receptors is lower compared to those produced by estrogen. When the compound is bound to the estrogen receptor, it blocks estrogen from being attached.
As a result, the effects produced by estrogen in the body get inhibited. Since estrogen has been linked to various forms of cancers, Genistein is thought to help in the prevention of these cancers. A regular usage of the chemical compound in postmenopausal women may contribute to reducing symptoms that are associated with menopause.
Uses Of Genistein
Prevention Of Cancer
The binding of genistein to estrogen receptors has made it a potential cancer treatment remedy. The ability of the compound to interfere with the activities of the estrogen hormone helps reduce the risks that are associated with cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and cancer of the endometrium.
Scientists have produced evidence that shows the ability of soy products to protect an individual from the three types of cancers. Other reports suggest the effectiveness of the compound in the management of prostate cancer.
Management Of Osteoporosis
Studies have revealed that supplementation of the body with genistein may help improve the bone health. However, more research needs to be done to substantiate these claims. A study was carried out in the year 2009 to find the potential effects of genistein in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.
The study discovered that the chemical compound is capable of reducing bone loss in postmenopausal women who have osteoporosis.
It was also found out that the compound enhanced the phalanges and calcaneus ultrasound parameters. However, as mentioned above, more studies need to be carried out to confirm these claims.
Management Of Heart Diseases
Evidence shows that genistein can be used in the management of cardiovascular problems affecting patients. One double-blind and placebo-controlled study showed that the intake of the compound could help relax the arterial wall as well as the endothelium.
The relaxation of the arteries leads to the prevention of cardiovascular disorders. Test tube studies have also shown that the chemical compound can help lower the concentration of cholesterol in the blood.
It also blocks the deposition of cholesterol from the blood to the blood vessels as this could lead to their thickening and narrowing. Other test tube studies also claimed that genistein could prevent the formation of blood clots, which are the leading cause of heart attacks.
Prevention Of Menopausal Symptoms
Scientific evidence has shown that genistein can be used to reduce symptoms that are encountered by women undergoing menopause.
A double-blind research project that involved a total of 247 participants concluded that genistein could reduce hot flash occurrences. The women took 54 mg of the compound per day, and the results were positive compared those who took the placebo. There were no side effects reported during the study.
Protects The Intestine From Radiation
Radiation therapy is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment. However, its use is associated with the formation of mucositis due to the damage it causes on the intestine walls.
A study was conducted on mice to determine the effects of genistein in the prevention of the intestinal injury that results from radiotherapy. The study concluded that the compound could reduce the damage to the intestines that is caused by radiation therapy. Genistein was also found to be able to delay the growth of the tumor.
The study proved that the compound is a valuable candidate for the prevention of radiotherapy-induced intestinal damage.
Side Effects Associated With The Use Of Genistein
Effects In Males Users
In vitro studies have shown the possibility of genistein to cause apoptosis of the male testicular cells. The effect of the compound on the male testicular cells has raised concern about its effect on male fertility.
However, a study that was conducted recently suggested that isoflavones, in general, do not have any significant effect on male sperm production, endocrine measurements, or testicular volume. Hence, there is no need to worry about their effects on male fertility.
Genistein is a known strong inhibitor of topoisomerase enzymes. The compound activity of the enzyme is similar to anticancer agents such as etoposide and doxorubicin. However, when the compound is administered in high doses, it may exert toxic effects to the body cells.
The effects on the cells of the body may produce both anticarcinogenic and carcinogenic effects depending on the dose administered to an individual. In another study, genistein was found to degrade the DNA of cultured red blood cells.
As a result, the compound is thought to cause leukemia. When the compound is taken during pregnancy, it may lead to infant leukemia.
Genistein Review Summary
The genistein compound has been the focus of lab research work since the year 1966. Its ability to bind to estrogen receptors makes it a potential candidate for the management of different conditions, including cancer and heart diseases. A significant dietary source of the compound to the body can be found in soybeans.