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Topic: Hummus question

Forum: Complementary and Holistic Medicine and Treatment — Complementary medicine refers to treatments that are used WITH standard treatment. Holistic medicine is a term used to describe therapies that attempt to treat the patient as a whole person.

Posted on: Feb 15, 2008 10:43AM

JenHam wrote:

I've been going through some of the posts here and have come across some that mention hummus as being a phytoestrogen.  I haven't really done my research on this.  I thought I was eating so healthy....I have sprouted tortillas spread with hummus, spinach and fresh salsa everyday.  It's my favorite meal of the day since starting the pH diet.  Now, I'm concerned that I'm going to have to eliminate yet another food I love.  My question is, do any of you still eat hummus and if you know how it may interact with tamoxifen?  I had two primary tumors one er+ (40%) the other triple neg (8%) (I haven't figured out how to put that in my profile). 


Dx 4/4/2007, IDC, 3cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 15, 2008 11:06AM AnnNYC wrote:

Jen, this is a tough question!

I'm assuming hummus = chickpeas.  So I googled "phytoestrogen" and "chickpeas."

I saw one page from a hospital in India that flat-out says "chickpeas do not contain phytoestrogens and therefore are highly recommended for children."

I saw zillions of pages saying that chickpeas DO contain phytoestrogens, but none were actual investigative scientific reports, more like nutritional advice pages.  So I thought it might just be "conventional wisdom" -- something "everybody knows" because chickpeas are legumes, as are soybeans.

But then I found reports from a scientific meeting (Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture) which said:

"The phytoestrogens found in chickpeas were biochanin A and formonetin. The total phytoestrogen levels found in chickpea samples ranged from 0.5 to 3.2 mg/100g. The levels of phytoestrogen in soybean range between 36 to 237 mg/100g. Chickpeas had the highest levels (123-141 mg/100g) of phytosterols and... exceeded the levels found in soybean (50 mg/100g)... The folic acid results show that chickpeas (54 µg/100g) can supply approximately a quarter of the daily requirements for Australian females and approximately an eighth of the daily requirement for pregnant women. The folic acid levels in soybean are around 111 µg/100g."

[from page 22 of http://www.clima.uwa.edu.au/__data/page/918/abstracts2002.pdf]

So chickpeas have AT MOST only a tenth of the phytoestrogens that soybeans do -- and possibly as little as 2 tenths of a percent (2 thousandths).

I'm not up on nutrition enough to know whether phytosterols or folic acid are considered good or bad with respect to BC -- chickpeas have more phytosterols than soybeans and half as much folic acid. 

Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 15, 2008 11:14AM AnnNYC wrote:

Phytosterols: act in the colon to reduce cholesterol.

Possibly protective against colon, prostate, breast cancer


Folic acid: possibly protective against breast cancer?

Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 15, 2008 03:44PM Cynthia1962 wrote:

Jen - thanks for starting this thread...I've been wondering about chickpeas since I started on Tamoxifen. 

Ann - great info!  Now, I just need to figure out what it all means. 


Mets to bones Dx 1/3/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/16/2007 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 3/19/2007 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 9/6/2007 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 11/9/2007 Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2010 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 11/11/2010, IDC, Stage IV, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/1/2012 Xeloda (capecitabine) Chemotherapy 11/14/2012 Navelbine (vinorelbine)
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Feb 15, 2008 04:03PM OneBadBoob wrote:

I think it is actually the sesame seeds (tahini) in the hummus that is in question--rich in ligans, like flax seeds.

Jane - Dance as if no one is watching!! Dx 7/7/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 15, 2008 04:05PM AnnNYC wrote:

Interesting about the sesame seeds -- thanks Jane.

Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 15, 2008 06:32PM Rosemary44 wrote:

Yes, it's the sesame seeds that you'll need to avoid while on tamoxifen:


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Feb 15, 2008 06:32PM mkl48 wrote:


I think it is the chickpeas themselves. Blackbeans are quite high in phytoestrogens. There are many sites that rank legumes and nuts. There is also a question of whether this is a problem while on an AI- Edge said no to me because Aromasin should be reducing my estrogen, but the issue Tender raised has not been answered- what about after the 5 years? Are the deprived cells just ready to "gobble up"-my words that estrogenic source. Since Er+ is at best a chronic disease even without mets, I wish more work would be done. It is interesting that prostate cancer research is developing some evidence based outcomes about foods and supplements. Colon cancer as well.  Reinforcing Joan, a nuitritionist at U of Mich did publish that one of the vegetable, fruit studies was flawed since almost all the participants were eating at least 5 servings at baseline. I am not sure the interpretation that the ER+ said they were eating less, but lost little weight discounts the outcomes, I wonder if most of the women were on an anti-hormonal and as most of us know it would be perfectly probable to be eating 150 calories fewer per day and not lose weight!!!! Beth

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Feb 15, 2008 10:27PM BlindedByScience wrote:

I think it's important to note that phytoestrogens vary in how closely they mimic estrogen and how they interact with human biochemistry. The phytoestrogens in soy are some of the best estrogen mimics, second to alfalfa & clover. 

Some phytoestrogens are showing promise as protective and/or inhibitors of ER+ bc. Resveratrol and the lignans in flaxseed are two examples being studied. 

Chickpeas, according to the authors of the paper below, are high in isoflavones, which groups them with soy and alfalfa. Maybe this is reason to avoid them, but I've also seen references that say whole soy (versus isoflavone supplements) can be neutral rather than stimulatory.  

From: Phytoestrogens, endocrine disrupters from food

Phytoestrogens are all polyphenols. They come in several different types:  isoflavones, coumestanes, lignans, esorcilic acid lactone and stilbens.

For isoflavones the main sources are clover, soy, heather,
alfalfa, chick peas [9,19,20]. For lignans the main sources
are wheat bran, linseed, grains, red wines [21]. Coumestanes
are essentially present in soy sprout, alfalfa, green beans, red
beans, split beans, cow peas [9]. Resorcilic acid lactones are
micotoxines which are present following a fungi attack on
corn, wheat, sesame, barley, oats, rye or peas [9]. Stilbens
and particularly resveratrol is present in red wine following
botritis attack [22]. 

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Feb 19, 2008 11:42AM JenHam wrote:

Ann, thanks for all your research.  I'm still confused, but I feel a little bit better about continuing to eat hummus knowing it doesn't contain nearly as much phytoestrogens as soy. 

Dx 4/4/2007, IDC, 3cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2008 12:22PM AnnNYC wrote:

Hi Jen -- I've kind of concluded the same thing, too.

Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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