Plasma levels of the lignans enterodiol and enterolactone, and also the isoflavonic phyto-oestrogens daidzein, equol and genistein, are reported for postmenopausal Australian women consuming a traditional diet supplemented with linseed, soya flour or clover sprouts. Analysis was performed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, after enzymatic hydrolysis and ion-exchange chromatography. Following linseed supplementation, combined levels of enterolactone and enterodiol reached 500 ng/ml, whereas after soya flour or clover sprouts the respective concentrations of equol, daidzein and genistein reached 43, 312 and 148 ng/ml. Not all subjects were able to produce equol from daidzein. The possible relationship and role of these weak dietary oestrogens as restraining factors in the development of hormone-dependent cancers in Asian populations is discussed.
Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 142, 251–259