Isoflavones in soy may play a role in the prevention of cancer through their capacity to affect antioxidant or protective phase II enzyme activities. This study evaluated the effects of dietary isoflavone levels on the induction of antioxidant and phase II enzyme activities and inhibition of breast carcinogenesis. Female Sprague-Dawley rats (36 d) were fed one of four purified diets with casein, or with soy containing three levels of isoflavonoids (0.03, 0.4 or 0.81 mg/g diet; low, middle and high level of isoflavones, respectively). After 2 wk, enzyme activity was determined of rats (n = 6-7) from each diet group. Liver glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase activities, blood glutathione levels, kidney glutathione s-transferase and colon quinone reductase (QR) activities were greater in rats consuming the high isoflavone diet compared to rats consuming the casein diet. Kidney QR and liver, kidney, small intestine, and colon UDP- glucuronosyltransferase activities were greater in rats fed the high isoflavone diet compared to rats fed the casein and low-isoflavone diets. Liver and blood oxidized glutathione were lower in rats fed the high- isoflavone diet compared to those fed the low-isoflavone diet. A subset of rats (n = 86) was fed the purified diets for 2 wk and intubated with dimethylbenz[a]anthracene or peanut oil and palpated weekly for tumors. At 13 wk, there was an inverse relationship (R2 = 0.911, P < 0.09) between tumor incidence and increasing isoflavone intake. These data support the mechanism of soy and soy isoflavones as antioxidant and phase II enzyme inducers, but not as tumor inhibitors.
- Phase II enzymes