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Synthesis of Labelled and Unlabelled Phytoestrogens
Project Code: T05001
University of St. Andrews
There is currently a huge amount of interest in the beneficial effects of chemicals that are naturally present in plants that make up part of our diet - the phytochemicals. There is now a considerable body of research that shows that eating certain fruits and vegetables can have beneficial effects on our long term health, in particular in terms of cancer prevention and also protection against cardiovascular disease. However, although the evidence for protection by the whole fruit or vegetable is convincing, there is still much debate as to which actual phytochemicals are responsible for the health effects. Obviously, the phytochemicals implicated as the biologically active species vary from plant to plant. This project has been involved with two different classes of phytochemicals. These are the isoflavones which are mainly present in soya and soya derived products and the lignans, present in whole grains, especially linseed. Both theses classes of compounds are in fact phytoestrogens, that is they mimic the effects of the natural hormone, estrogen, which is involved in the control of sexual development in humans and is important in the development of hormone related cancers such as breast and prostate.
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