Genistein is derived from the hydrolysis of the glycoside genistin. Genistein is a soy-derived isoflavone and phytoestrogen with antineoplastic activity. Genistein binds to and inhibits protein-tyrosine kinase, thereby disrupting signal transduction and inducing cell differentiation. This agent also inhibits topoisomerase-II, leading to DNA fragmentation and apoptosis, and induces G2/M cell cycle arrest. Genistein exhibits antioxidant, antiangiogenic, and immunosuppressive activities.
After numerous clinical studies, researchers in Finland concluded that people in Japan have lower rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer because of the genistein contained in their diets, which are high in soy. Genistein binds itself in place of estrogen on receptors in cancerous cells that need this hormone to grow. Some studies have also shown that it helps regulate blood sugar and prevent the development of insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes and a host of disorders associated with this condition, including diabetic retinopathy.
Genistein has also been shown to help prevent the growth of cancer by depriving cancer cells of a protein called tyrosine protein kinase, which they need to flourish, and disrupting the action of certain enzymes that allow cancerous tumors to develop their own blood supply.
As a phytoestrogen, genistein mimics the effects of estrogen in the body, and may be a useful treatment for conditions caused or worsened by declining estrogen levels during menopause, including osteoporosis and increased risk of heart disease. Soy isoflavones have demonstrated an ability to lower low-density lipoproteincholesterol levels, and to help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. It has also been suggested that soy isoflavones may be useful for treatment of Alzheimer disease by preventing a build-up of plaque in blood vessels in the brain.
Genstein may also be helpful for treating psoriasis, and skin cancer. It has been shown to reduce the production of keratin, a protein in the skin that has been linked to abnormal growth in skin cells.