High dietary fiber intake has been hypothesized to lower blood estrogen concentrations, an effect thought to be beneficial for decreasing breast cancer risk. This study investigated the association between dietary supplementation of wheat bran and circulating estrogen levels in postmenopausal African-American women participating in a community intervention trial. Seventeen postmenopausal women (aged 63 ± 1.6 yr) participated in the study. Nutritional status was assessed and blood and 24- hour urine samples were collected before and after five to six weeks of daily supplementation of the diet with 35 g of wheat bran cereal (11.6 g insoluble dietary fiber) marked with 28 mg of riboflavin. Riboflavin confirmed that all postmenopausal participants adhered to the intervention protocol. Nine of the 17 postmenopausal women were taking some form of estrogen replacement therapy (PM-ERT). Baseline hormone levels in the PM-ERT group did not significantly change after the dietary intervention. Estradiol (96.8 ± 20.3 vs. 113.8 ± 23.3 pg/ml), androstenedione (0.47 ± 0.06 vs. 0.45 ± 0.06 ng/ml), and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG, 107 ± 13.5 vs. 106.6 ± 13.3 nmol/l) levels remained constant. In the eight postmenopausal women who were not receiving exogenous hormones (PM), wheat bran consumption was not associated with predicted decreased levels of estradiol (25. 7 ± 2.7 vs. 31.0 ± 1.9 pg/ml), estrone (38.3 ± 10.1 vs. 39.3 ± 10.6 pg/ml), and androstenedione (0.78 ± 0.08 vs. 0.68 ± 0.11 ng/ml) or with increased concentrations of SHBG (35.2 ± 6.4 vs. 34.8 ± 6.5 nmol/l). Participants receiving ERT had baseline and postintervention levels of estradiol and SHBG significantly higher and androstenedione significantly lower than those not receiving ERT. No association between wheat bran supplementation and hormone levels was found in PM or PM-ERT African-American participants. These results in postmenopausal women are in contrast to findings of earlier studies in premenopausal women indicating that wheat bran fiber decreases serum sex hormones. Estrogen levels in postmenopausal women are only 5-10% of those in premenopausal women; therefore, a high wheat bran fiber diet alone may not be sufficient to depress these low levels even further.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank M. Aickin for data-related issues and Y. Chiu for help as research assistant. This study was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants NINR-1-RO1-NR-03552, P30-CA-16086S1, and RR-