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Soy no benefit for hot flashes, bone loss with menopause

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers are exploring safe options for menopausal women that can reduce symptoms of menopause. In an ongoing evaluation, soy products seem to offer no benefit for reducing bone loss, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and other symptoms of estrogen decline.

Scientists looked at the possible benefits of soy over a 5 year period in 248 women. One group was given 200 mg. of soy isoflavones and the other, placebo.

In the study, conducted by Silvina Levis, M.D., of the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, and colleagues, the dose of soy was equivalent intake from an Asian diet. Women age 45 to 60 with normal bone mineral density participated.

After two years, the researchers found no difference in bone loss between the women given soy and those give placebo.

Close to one half of the women (48.4 percent) experienced hot flashes who were taking soy. Less than thirty-three percent (31.7 percent) of women given placebo had the symptoms.

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More women given soy reported constipation.

The researchers say finding ways to help women deal with menopause symptoms is important, but the study, which took place from July 2004 to March 2009, shows soy may be no help for relieving menopausal symptoms that come from declining estrogen.

The authors note the study has shortcomings because it only included 248 women. The drop-out rate was also high.

According to background information from the study, 80 percent of women experiencing menopause will have hot flashes, and 20 percent seek treatment. Estrogen gives relief and prevents bone loss, but the risk of stroke, memory loss and blood clots is high.

The researchers suggest it would be beneficial to understand more about the mechanism of hot flashes and night sweats. Targeted therapies to reduce menopausal symptoms may be better than a “one-size” fits all therapy. Soy products are no help for menopause symptoms relief, or for preventing bone loss, according to the results of this study.

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(15):1363-1369; doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.330
Soy Isoflavones in the Prevention of Menopausal Bone Loss and Menopausal Symptoms
Silvina Levis, M.D., et al.
August 8, 2011

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