Could soy supplements play a role in menopause?

A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that soy may not play a role in easing the symptoms of menopause.

When hormone therapy fails, women are likely to try almost any method to ease menopause symptoms. Some women even turn to soy supplements. However, a new study published in Archives of Internal Medicine shows that soy may not play a role in easing the symptoms of menopause.

To  break down the study:

  • 248 menopausal women ages 45-60 were given a placebo pill or a soy isoflavone supplement each day throughout the trial. The trial took place between July 1, 2004, through March 31, 2009.
  • 126 women were assigned the placebo, while 122 were assigned the soy isoflavone supplement.
  • The women who were assigned soy isoflavone supplements took 200 milligrams of soy isoflavone supplements each day.
  • More women had hot flashes after the study than participants taking the placebo.

According to reporting by Nicholas Bakalar at The New York Times:

“Women should be reconsidering taking these types of products for menopausal health,” said Dr. Silvina Levis, lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at the University of Miami. “We didn’t see any objective clinical benefit for soy isoflavone supplements. We actually saw more constipation, bloating and hot flashes in the women taking soy.”

So what do experts recommend?

"Perhaps efforts should be directed away from the hope of a one-size-fits-all therapy for menopausal symptoms toward using existing treatments to target the symptoms that disturb patients most," study co-author Katherine Newton, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington Seattle, said to Time reporter Sora Song.

The study concludes, "In this population, the daily administrationof tablets containing 200 mg of soy isoflavones for 2 yearsdid not prevent bone loss or menopausal symptoms."

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Image: via Flickr by Horia Varlan

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