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Team to study health effects of botanical estrogens
Date:9/8/2010

fficacy and safety has yielded mixed results. Consumption of some plants or extracts appears to reduce the risk of some cancers or minimize some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause, while others have no effect. Still other studies, some of them conducted at Illinois, have found that certain phytoestrogens may actually induce cognitive problems, increase the recurrence of breast cancer and interfere with breast cancer treatment.

"The types of botanical estrogens that are being marketed are getting more and more potent," said William Helferich, a professor of food science and human nutrition at Illinois and the director of the new center. "We want to see if they really are effective or detrimental."

The new grant supports three projects led by Illinois faculty. The projects will explore whether and how phytoestrogens from soy, licorice root, dong quai and wild yam affect various tissues, influence gene expression or other cellular processes, increase or decrease the growth and metastasis of breast cancer tumors, influence bone loss or alter the rate of cognitive decline in aging. Two core areas will provide support to the three projects by authenticating and standardizing the botanical samples used in the studies and analyzing how the various compounds are utilized in the body.

Benita Katzenellenbogen, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology and of cell and developmental biology at Illinois, will lead a project to study the effects of botanical estrogens on gene activation and their interaction with estrogen receptors and regulatory proteins.

Helferich will lead a project to investigate the effects of botanical estrogens on bone, uterus and mammary glands, and their effects on the growth and progression of breast cancer and its metastasis to bone, lung or other tissues.

Illinois comparative biosciences professor Susan Schantz will serve as the associate director of the center and together with I
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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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