Licorice May Have Negative Effects on Women's Fertility

Researchers have found that a compound in licorice, which is known for having anticancer properties, may decrease estrogen in females.

Isoliquiritigenin is a compound found in the root that is indigenous to parts of Asia and Europe. The study, put out by the University of Illinois, said the exposure to isoliquiritigenin reduces expression of genes related to the production of sex hormones, like estrogen.

While the findings are still preliminary, head researcher, Jodi Flaws, noted that a reduction in sex hormones could possibly have serious implications for women’s fertility.

“In general, when you start to have lower hormone levels, you could start to have problems with reproduction,” Flaws said. “And because estrogen is also important for healthy brains, healthy bones, a healthy cardiovascular system, if the levels are depleted for too long, you could have problems with those systems. We haven’t shown that to be the case. That’s just a possibility.” Whole root and purified forms of the licorice compound is used in products sometimes geared toward people for having anti-cancer properties and especially women to relieve symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, Flaws’ co-researcher Sharada Mahalingam explained.

While the compound has traditionally been marketed towards women’s health, this is the first study to state that it could be toxic to normal growth and development of the ovary, Flaws said.

Sourced from: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine