Genistein Health Benefits
Genistein health benefits include possible help in lowering prostate cancer risk. Studies have shown that when men ate more foods rich in genistein (e.g., tofu, soybeans), there was a lower incidence of prostate cancer, while lower intake of genistein was associated with higher rates of cancer. (Moline 2009)
Genstein is an isoflavone and a phytoestrogen, a substance found in plants that has estrogen-like properties. The antioxidant abilities of genistein may make it helpful in fighting prostate disease.
In test tube studies, scientists have also shown that genistein hinders the growth of prostate cancer cells. (Raffoul 2006; Kazi 2003) A research team at Northwestern University went a step beyond and found that genistein fights human prostate cancers that have been implanted in mice. Although the genistein health benefits did not include elimination of the cancer or tumor shrinkage, the cancer cells were prevented from spreading. It was also the first study to show that one of genistein health benefits could be the prevention of the spread of prostate cancer in a living organism. (Lakshman 2008)
Another study from Northwestern University reported on how genistein could help fight prostate cancer. The scientists identified MEK4 as a pro-invasion protein and the target for genistein in prostate cancer cells. The authors concluded they had found a possible link between high dietary consumption of foods that contain genistein and a lower rate of prostate cancer metastasis and death. (Xu 2009)
More recently, researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, reported on the effects of genistein or resveratrol alone and in combination in rats with induced prostate cancer. They found that a high-dose combination decreased proliferation of prostate cancer cells and that genistein as a single agent induced cell suicide. (Harper 2009)
How to Reap Genistein Health Benefits
Soybeans and foods made from them, such as tofu, miso, and soy beverages, are the main food sources of genistein. Curry powder and fava beans also contain a fair amount of genistein. The amount of genistein in soy foods depends on the processing method.
Harper CE et al. Genistein and resveratrol, alone and in combination, suppress prostate cancer in SV-40 tag rats. Prostate 2009 Nov 1; 69(15): 1668-82
Kazi A et al. Inhibition of the proteasome activity, a novel mechanism associated with the tumor cell apoptosis-inducing ability of genistein. Biochem Pharmacol 2003; 66(6):965-76.
Lakshman M et al. Dietary genistein inhibits metastasis of human prostate cancer in mice. Cancer Res 2008 Mar 15; 68(6): 2024-32
Moline B, Georgel P. Genetic and epigenetic regulations of prostate cancer by genistein. Drug News Perspect 2009;22(5):247-254.
Raffoul JJ et al. Genistein inhibits radiation-induced activation of NF-kappa B in prostate cancer cells promoting apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest. BMC Cancer 2006; 6:107.
Xu L et al. MEK4 function, genistein treatment, and invasion of human prostate cancer cells. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009 Aug 19; 101(16): 1141-55