Soy may not provide relief during menopause: study
By Genevra Pittman
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Taking soy supplements may not help women ease their menopause symptoms or prevent the bone changes that start at that time of life, suggests a new study from Florida.
Women who took the supplements every day for two years didn't have any improvement in their symptoms compared with those who took a soy-free placebo pill -- and they suffered more hot flashes by the end of the study.
Researchers also didn't see any changes in their bone mineral density compared to women taking placebos. Low bone mineral density puts women at higher risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.
Women seeking relief from menopause symptoms have been without a clear go-to treatment since the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study of hormone therapy reported heart and cancer risks with estrogen and progestin use.
Previous studies have shown that soy supplements don't have those same added risks. But the studies have also found mixed results on soy's ability to slow bone weakening and ease hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
"What prompted us to do this study was in the wake of WHI when many of our patients stopped using hormone therapy," said Dr. Silvina Levis, the study's lead author from the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.
"Many of them had just gone to a health food store and started on soy supplements," she told Reuters Health. "The study was started to try to answer a simple question: will these soy isoflavone tablets help women with the issues they were concerned with?"
Levis and her team randomly split 248 women who had recently hit menopause into two groups. For two years, half of the women took 200 milligrams of soy isoflavones every day -- about twice the amount that would be in a soy-rich diet. The other half took placebo pills. None of them knew whether they were getting the real or sham treatment. Continued...