Genistein is a compound found in soy products. It has been used reduce symptoms of menopause and to help control blood glucose. It has also been used to help lower chances of prostate and breast cancer. It can be taken by eating foods like soy beans and soy milk. Genistein can also be taken as a pill.
30 to 60 milligrams once daily
What Research Shows
- Breast cancer —likely to lower the risk of breast cancer in Asian women A1
- High blood pressure —likely to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure C1, C2
- High cholesterol —likely to lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol but not effect HDL (“good”) cholesterol or triglycerides D1
- Menopause —likely to help control blood glucose, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, reduce hot flashes, and improve cognitive function; may ease vaginal symptoms E1-E16
- Osteoporosis —likely to increase bone mineral density in women G1
May Be Effective
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to take genistein in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
- People taking hormone medicine should talk to their doctor before taking genistein. It may interact with the medicine.
- People with bone problems should talk to their doctors before taking genistein. It may interact with their medicine.
A. Breast Cancer
A1. Dong JY, Qin LQ. Soy isoflavones consumption and risk of breast cancer incidence or recurrence: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Jan;125(2):315-323.
B1. Ding M, Pan A, et al. Consumption of soy foods and isoflavones and risk of type 2 diabetes: a pooled analysis of three US cohorts. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Dec;70(12):1381-1387.
C. High Blood Pressure
C1. Taku K, Lin N, et al. Effects of soy isoflavone extract supplements on blood pressure in adult humans: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. J Hypertens. 2010 Oct;28(10):1971-1982.
C2. Liu XX, Li SH, et al. Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Jun;22(6):463-470.
D. High Cholesterol
D1. Taku K, Umegaki K, et al. Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1148-1156.
E1. Liu J, Ho SC, et al. Effect of long-term intervention of soy isoflavones on bone mineral density in women: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Bone. 2009 May;44(5):948-953.
E2. Taku K, Melby MK, et al. Effect of soy isoflavone extract supplements on bone mineral density in menopausal women: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):33-42.
E3. Bolaños R, Del Castillo A, et al. Soy isoflavones versus placebo in the treatment of climacteric vasomotor symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis. Menopause. 2010 May-Jun;17(3):660-666.
E4. Ricci E, Cipriani S, et al. Soy isoflavones and bone mineral density in perimenopausal and postmenopausal Western women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Sep;19(9):1609-1617.
E5. Ricci E, Cipriani S, et al. Effects of soy isoflavones and genistein on glucose metabolism in perimenopausal and postmenopausal non-Asian women: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 2010 Sep-Oct;17(5):1080-1086.
E6. Taku K, Melby MK, et al. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 2012;19(7):776-790.
E7. Lethaby A, Marjoribanks J, et al. Phytoestrogens for menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 10;(12):CD001395.
E8. Li L, Lv Y, et al. Quantitative efficacy of soy isoflavones on menopausal hot flashes. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr;79(4):593-604.
E9. Cheng PF, Chen JJ, et al. Do soy isoflavones improve cognitive function in postmenopausal women? A meta-analysis. Menopause. 2015 Feb;22(2):198-206.
E10. Fang K, Dong H, et al. Soy isoflavones and glucose metabolism in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016;60(7):1602-1614.
E11. Ghazanfarpour M, Sadeghi R, et al. The application of soy isoflavones for subjective symptoms and objective signs of vaginal atrophy in menopause: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2016;36(2):160-171.
E12. Franco OH, Chowdhury R, et al. Use of Plant-Based Therapies and Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016 Jun 21;315(23):2554-2563.
E13. Li J, Liu Y, et al. Does genistein lower plasma lipids and homocysteine levels in postmenopausal women? A meta-analysis. Climacteric. 2016 Oct;19(5):440-447.
E14. Perna S, Peroni G, et al. Multidimensional Effects of Soy Isoflavone by Food or Supplements in Menopause Women: a Systematic Review and Bibliometric Analysis. Nat Prod Commun. 2016 Nov;11(11):1733-1740.
E15. Liu Y, Li J, et al. The effect of genistein on glucose control and insulin sensitivity in postmenopausal women: A meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2017 Mar;97:44-52.
E16. Daily JW, Ko BS, et al. Equol Decreases Hot Flashes in Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2019 Feb;22(2):127-139.
F1. Akhlaghi M, Zare M, et al. Effect of Soy and Soy Isoflavones on Obesity-Related Anthropometric Measures: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr. 2017 Sep 15;8(5):705-717.
G1. Wei P, Liu M, et al. Systematic review of soy isoflavone supplements on osteoporosis in women. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2012 Mar;5(3):243-248.
H. Prostate Cancer
H1. van Die MD, Bone KM, et al. Soy and soy isoflavones in prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BJU Int. 2014 May;113(5b):E119-E130.
Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 5/6/2020