Marcia Veronica Galván Portillo, MS.c.

Dr. Galván Portillo, an MSc. in Reproductive Health, is currently a researcher in Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. She was awarded the Irving J. Selikoff Scholarship in the year 2000 to support the creation of a Phytoestrogens Database of Mexican food. Dr. Galvan’s additional research interests include nutrition and breast cancer, molecular and nutritional epidemiology of gastric cancer and gne-environment interaction and nutrition.

Institutional Affiliation

National Institute of Public Health

Mailing Address

National Institute of Public Health
Av.Universidad # 655.
Col Santa Maria Ahuacatitla
Cuernavaca, Morelos

E-mail Address

Irving J. Selikoff Scholarship Project

Developing a Phytoestrogens Database of Mexican Food

Phytoestrogens are a diverse group of plant-derived substances with weak estrogenic and antioxidative activity. They are hormone-like diphenolic substances of dietary origin with molecular weights similar to steroidal estrogens. The most significant sources of isoflavone phytoestrogens are soybeans, soy flour, soy flakes, isolated soy protein, traditional soy foods such as tofu and miso and other legumes. The lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, have been identified in whole grain cereal foods, berries (strawberries, blueberries, red berries, cranberries, blackberries, brambleberry, etc.), citric fruits, wheat, licorice, alfalfa, fennel, flaxseed and celery. Milk has become identified as source of equol, yet another phytoestrogen.

There is growing evidence suggesting that phytoestrogens may reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially hormone dependent ones, such as breast and prostate cancers. Phytoestrogens compete with human estrogen for receptor sites on the surface of breast tissue cells. Due to their weak estrogenic potential, phytoestrogens inhibit cell division, and thus can actually protect women from the possible development of a breast malignancy. The Mexican diet is rich in phytoestrogens and breast cancer mortality is low (6.2) compared to the mortality rates of USA (32.6) and Japan (11.6).

The understanding of the effects of phytoestrogens on cancer risk is limited. One obstacle is the lack of a suitable database of phytoestrogen content in foods needed to assess phytoestrogen intake in epidemiological studies in Mexico. The research group will carry out several studies on diet and breast and gastric cancers using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (QFF) and software adapted to the Mexican diet with information about nutrient intake (STATA 5.0)

Partial Bibliography

Galvan-Portillo M, Lopez-Carrillo L, Torres-Sánchez L. Dietary and reproductive factors associated with Benign Breast Disease in Mexican women, Nutrition and Cancer vol 43(2):133-40.

Galvan-Portillo M, Jimenez-Gutierrez C, Torres-Sanchez L, Lopez-Carrillo L. Food consumption and adipose tissue DDT levels in Mexican women. Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. Cad Saude Publica 2002 Mar-Apr;18(2):447-52.