Isoflavones are plant-derived substances with weak estrogenic effects. Asian populations are high consumers of soy products which are rich in isoflavones. The lower breast cancer incidence in Asian women compared with Western women has been associated with the possibility of a preventive isoflavone effect on cancer risk. The aim of this review is to give an overview of current research data on the influence of isoflavones on the risk of primary breast cancer development as well as the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients. Despite inconsistencies in the available data, an inverse correlation between isoflavone intake and risk of breast cancer is likely. However, a negative impact on breast cancer disease, especially on hormone receptor-positive tumors, cannot be excluded at present.

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