Soybeans Are Effective In Reducing Hot Flashes In Menopausal Women

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have found that a compound in soybeans is effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.

The findings, which appear in the January issue of Menopause, showed a 52 percent reduction in the number of hot flashes among patients who consumed a soy supplement without evidence of negative side effects.

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"What we are trying to find is a safe and effective alternative to hormone therapy," says senior author investigator George Blackburn, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Surgery at BIDMC, Harvard Medical School. "Our study found that patients who consumed the soy supplement showed a reduction in the number of hot flashes." Blackburn explains that while hormone therapy yields the best results in treating hot flashes, its long-term use could increase the risk of certain medical disorders such as coronary heart disease or stroke.

About 75 percent of all menopausal women are affected by hot flashes which are marked by the sudden, intense, feeling of heat caused by a decline in estrogen levels. With evidence that hot flashes are often uncommon in countries where a lot of soybeans are consumed, the research team at BIDMC decided to test a compound found abundantly in soy germ, in the form of a daidzein-rich isoflavone-aglycone supplement(DRI). Isoflavones are one of several classes of phytoestrogens that exert both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties.

"The chemical structure of this compound is very similar to that of our own estrogen, allowing it to act as a regulatory mechanism if the body's natural levels decrease," explains Hope Ricciotti, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology at BIDMC.

Researchers studied 147 menopausal women who were divided into three groups and instructed to take one soft-gel DRI capsule a day. They tested two different DRI concentrations, 40 mg or 60 mg, and compared them to a group taking a placebo. After 12 weeks, hot flash frequency was reduced by 52 percent in the 40 mg DRI group and 51percent in the 60 mg DRI group compared with 39 percent in the placebo group. The effects of isoflavones can be complex because of the many varieties of soy foods and the different methods of preparation. This study used a standardized, concentrated isoflavone ingredient called AglyMax

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