Genistein and myeloma

A blog reader/myeloma list friend (thank you!) sent me the link to a newly published study on genistein and multiple myeloma:


Sherlock is abroad for the holidays, so I can’t get my hands on the full study until she returns, but the abstract gives us enough information for a preliminary report: genistein down-regulates NF-kappaB and related gene products…bcl-2 and bcl-x (well, well…well!) and others. But the main point is that genistein kills human myeloma cells, thus providing the molecular basis for the treatment of myeloma patients with this pharmacologically safe agent.


I had paid no serious attention to genistein because of the well-known problem of genetically modified soy…oh, right, because genistein derives mainly from soybeans, though small quantities can be found in other legumes, such as chickpeas. But from now on I will be keeping closer tabs on it. And perhaps eating more chickpeas…


This morning I bumped into another reason to keep an eye on genistein. A 2002 abstract (see: discussed lab tests showing that genistein stimulates osteoblasts and inhibits osteoclasts; that is, it stimulates bone formation and prevents bone destruction. But these results had not been verified on human subjects…until 2002, that is.


That is when Italian researchers performed a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study to evaluate and compare with hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) the effect of the phytoestrogen genistein on bone metabolism and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.

You can read many more details in the abstract, but the point is that This study confirms the genistein-positive effects on bone loss already observed in the experimental models of osteoporosis and indicates that the phytoestrogen [genistein, that is] reduces bone resorption and increases bone formation in postmenopausal women.

Excellent news for us myeloma folks…but before getting too excited about genistein and testing it on ourselves, my advice is to do more research into any possible risks and side effects (allergic reactions to soy and so on). I am definitely not in the genistein camp yet…but I am still reading, even though my task is rendered more difficult by the obnoxious presence of blatantly biased (one way or the other) websites. We need to find objective, more reliable sources…


  1. Hi Margaret,
    My naturopath had suggested genistein as a possibility, because (I think) there are studies showing that it can have a positive effect on some solid tumors. Or maybe it had worked in some non-human trials, I don’t recall. But she also noticed that it was a hormone and we together wondered if that would be beneficial or harmful with a blood cancer.

    I left the session intending to take it, and I bought some, but have never had the courage to actually take it. After reading your post, that hasn’t changed 🙂

    Here’s another useful site: NLM Resource Page.

    Thanks for posting on it! Happy New Year to you and Stefano, Don

  2. Don & Margaret —

    Sounds promising. The Chinese study mentions “providing the molecular basis for the treatment of myeloma patients with this pharmacologically safe agent.”

    First, how cool that your websites and these studies are hleping people all over the world. The good side of globalization for sure!

    Second, the study says “pharmacologically safe” but sounds like you two still have concerns? So what do they mean by “pharmacologically safe”?

    My hubby still on only curcumin:

    Date: M-Spike: IgG: ESR/Sed rate: CRP:
    2/12/2008 1.51 1884 24 High —
    3/1/08 — started curcumin gradually up to 8 grams
    5/08 @ Mayo 1.5 1650 — 3.3
    7/11/2008 1.35 1792 — —
    9/25/2008 1.58 1766 21 —
    10/27/2008 1.48 1832 22 —

    His doctor at Mayo wants to also follow ESR & C-Reactive Protein. We will go out to Mayo again in May. I feel like I am on pins & needles until then.


  3. Hi Sandy,

    If it’s any consolation, my M-spike is quite a bit higher than your husband’s. I’d say, relax!

    About pharmacologically safe, I have read controversial things about genistein, and until I read more I am not ready to start taking it. I also have to see if it interferes with curcumin. Still haven’t gotten to that point. Right now, I am just doing some preliminary reading. Will post any findings, good or bad, as usual.


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