Taking soy supplements will NOT ease the symptoms of menopause or protect against bone loss in women, researchers have reported. In fact, among women in the first five years of menopause, taking soy supplements was associated with a higher risk of bone loss compared with placebo, but significantly more women taking soy supplements had hot flashes.
The New York Times (Subscription Publication) reports in its “Vital Signs” blog that concerns about risks associated with estrogen replacement therapy “have led many women to turn to soy products to treat the symptoms of menopause.” Now, however, a “clinical trial published in Archives of Internal Medicine has found them no more effective than a placebo.”
The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reported that not only did “soy tablets do little to stave off bone loss among menopausal women,” but that women taking soy supplements also “reported more hot flashes and constipation.”
For the study, “248 menopausal women were randomly assigned to receive a placebo pill or 200 milligrams of soy isoflavone supplements per day – a dose ‘equivalent to approximately twice the highest intake through food sources in typical Asian diets,'”
CNN /Health.com reported, “At the end of the two-year study, bone scans showed no differences in bone mineral density between the two groups.” Meanwhile, “48% of the women who took soy experienced hot flashes, compared with just 31% percent of those in the placebo group.”
According to a report in HealthDay, investigators did find, however, that “spinal bone loss was smaller in a subgroup of women taking the soy isoflavone tablets: women whose vitamin D levels were less than 20 nanograms per milliliter.”
MedPage Today reported that an invited commentary pointed out that “efforts may need to move ‘away from the hope of a one-size-fits-all therapy for menopausal symptoms towards using existing treatments to target the symptoms that disturb patients most,'” and added that “non-hormonal therapies, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and gabapentin, may be effective treatments.” MedPage Today also noted that the “study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.”