Select Page

OCTOBER 2-4, 2018

Quebec City Convention Centre, Canada


Gynecologist and Full Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Hôpital Saint-François d’Assise, CHU de Québec, Canada.

“Phytoestrogens and breast cancer: what epidemiological studies tell us?”



Sylvie Dodin is a gynecologist and full professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Hôpital Saint-François d’Assise, CHU de Québec. She is a clinical researcher and a member of the Population Health and Best Practices in Health axes at the Research Centre of the same hospital. She has acquired extensive expertise in clinical research and primarily in conducting randomized clinical trials in women’s health and around alternative and complementary approaches. As a principal investigator, she has developed, organized and conducted 10 double-blind randomized clinical trials supported by granting agencies from which the majority of her publications are derived. She also has extensive experience in conducting systematic reviews. She has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. In her clinical research projects, she has always worked in close collaboration and interaction with several researchers from different and complementary fields of expertise and has always made it her duty to involve at an early stage graduate students at the master’s and doctoral levels and the clinician researchers she has directed. For over 30 years, through her activities as a clinician, researcher and teacher, Sylvie Dodin has devoted all her energies to promoting women’s overall health.


Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that may be considered as selective estrogens modulators (SERM), as they have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties. The major phytoestrogens present in our diet are isoflavones, lignans and coumestans. Isoflavones are present in high concentrations in soya beans, soya products like tofu, and red clover. Flaxseed is the principal source of lignans.

Whether or not phytoestrogens is associated with breast cancer is still a great subject of research and an intense debate. Indeed, the negative impact of phytoestrogens on breast cancer is almost exclusively supported by in vitro or in animal models studies. Recent observational studies reported no or protective effect of phytoestrogens among women with beast cancer. Meta-analysis of epidemiological studies suggested that there is a significant trend of decreased risk of breast cancer upon increasing intake of soya diet. Prospective studies and case-controls studies reported an inverse relation between lignans intake and breast cancer in women. The NEJM meta-analysis including 174 clinical trials concluded that phytoestrogens are a short-term safe profile and that breast cancer incidence was not significantly increased among phytoestrogen users in the investigated studies. We cannot expect to have a clinical trial powerful enough to answer definitively the question of breast cancer and phytoestrogens. Counselling women regarding phytoestrogens and breast cancer need to be based on updated data. The aim of this presentation is to present an overview of the recent epidemiological studies.

Conclusion: at the light of the current data, phytoestrogens could be safe for women with breast cancer but we should encourage women who seek about phytoestrogens to integrate them preferentially in their diet.


Le rendez-vous international sur les ingrédients et aliments santé qui se tiendra du 6 au 8 octobre 2020 au Centre des congrès de Québec au Canada. Propulsé par l’expertise du Québec en matière d’alimentation santé, BÉNÉFIQ est un lieu de synergie incontournable pour tous les scientifiques et industriels de ce secteur en constante effervescence.
Une initiative de l’Institut sur la nutrition et les aliments fonctionnels (INAF)


Share This