Committee on Toxicity draft report on phyto-oestrogens and health – review of proposed health effects of phyto-oestrogen exposure and recommendations for future research


Dr Aedin Cassidy.


The public health implications of exposure to phyto-oestrogens in the diet was recently reviewed by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) for the Food Standards Agency and provided the agency with recommendations for future research. These recommendations suggest a broadening of interest to the other classes of phyto-oestrogens, such as the lignans and prenylated compounds which to date have not been as thoroughly investigated as the isoflavones class. COT's draft report suggests that future research may focus on further understanding how these compounds work, defining the relative importance of metabolism, the hypothetical risk:benefit in subsections of the population who may be exposed to high levels through the diet or through supplement intake and the relative importance of phyto-oestrogens in relation to chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and cancer. However, it will be important to integrate future programmes with ongoing European Union and international funded work to ensure effective use of resources to further our understanding of the relative risk:benefit of these compounds to human health.