Soy supplements may not relieve menopausal symptoms

August 18, 2011

Soy supplements may not alleviate menopausal symptoms or prevent loss of bone mineral density, a new study from the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Florida, suggests. MORE

Soy supplements may not alleviate menopausal symptoms or prevent loss of bone mineral density, a new study from the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Florida, suggests.

The single-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial enrolled 248 women between 45 and 60 years of age who were within 5 years of menopause and had a bone mineral density T score of −2.0 or greater in the lumbar spine or total hip. Most were Hispanic; 182 completed the study. The women took either 200 mg of soy isoflavones (122 women) or placebo (126 women) daily for 2 years.

At 2-year follow-up, both groups had lost about the same amount of bone density at the hip, spine, and femoral neck (spine −2.0% soy vs −2.3% placebo; total hip −1.2% soy vs −1.4% placebo; femoral neck −2.2% soy vs −2.1% placebo) and reported a similar number of menopause symptoms, except that more women in the soy group said they had hot flashes (48% compared with 32% in the placebo group).

The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2011;17[15]:1363-1369).   

Many women substituted soy supplements for estrogen and progestin after the Women’s Health Initiative study raised concerns about heart and cancer risks associated with hormone therapy. Although the supplements didn’t help, they didn’t hurt: Study participants reported constipation and other digestive problems associated with soy but none reported serious side effects.

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