Open Access Open Badges Research article

Phytoestrogen consumption from foods and supplements and epithelial ovarian cancer risk: a population-based case control study

Elisa V Bandera12*, Melony King2, Urmila Chandran12, Lisa E Paddock23, Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez4 and Sara H Olson5

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Prevention and Control Program/Division of Surgical Oncology, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

2 School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA

3 New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Trenton, NJ, USA

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, UMDNJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

5 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Women's Health 2011, 11:40  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-40

Published: 23 September 2011



While there is extensive literature evaluating the impact of phytoestrogen consumption on breast cancer risk, its role on ovarian cancer has received little attention.


We conducted a population-based case-control study to evaluate phytoestrogen intake from foods and supplements and epithelial ovarian cancer risk. Cases were identified in six counties in New Jersey through the New Jersey State Cancer Registry. Controls were identified by random digit dialing, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service) lists, and area sampling. A total of 205 cases and 390 controls were included in analyses. Unconditional logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine associations with total phytoestrogens, as well as isoflavones (daidzein, genistein, formononetin, and glycitein), lignans (matairesinol, lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol), and coumestrol.


No statistically significant associations were found with any of the phytoestrogens under evaluation. However, there was a suggestion of an inverse association with total phytoestrogen consumption (from foods and supplements), with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.62 (95% CI: 0.38-1.00; p for trend: 0.04) for the highest vs. lowest tertile of consumption, after adjusting for reproductive covariates, age, race, education, BMI, and total energy. Further adjustment for smoking and physical activity attenuated risk estimates (OR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.41-1.08). There was little evidence of an inverse association for isoflavones, lignans, or coumestrol.


This study provided some suggestion that phytoestrogen consumption may decrease ovarian cancer risk, although results did not reach statistical significance.