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News Flash on Hot Flashes: Soy Can Turn Down the Heat

Soy Isoflavones May Offer Relief from Menopausal Symptoms

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- As baby boomer women age into their menopausal years, new research demonstrates that soy isoflavones may offer them dietary relief from hot flashes. Baby boomer women account for approximately 25 percent of the total female population in the United States and as the youngest members of this generation enter their early forties, an unprecedented number of women will experience symptoms of menopause over the next few years.

A recent study published in the European menopause journal, Maturitas, found that the isoflavones in soy could be just what the doctor ordered. The randomized double-blind study, conducted by Dr. Eliana Nahas and colleagues from Botucatu Medical School in Brazil, found soy isoflavones quite effective in reducing hot flashes in women experiencing menopause. Isoflavones, which are often referred to as phytoestrogens, are naturally occurring compounds in soy that share some properties in common with the hormone estrogen.

Over a period of 10 months, 80 women with an average age of 55 were given either a placebo or a supplement that provided 36 milligrams (mg) of isoflavones daily. At the beginning of the study, women reported experiencing an average of about 10 hot flashes per day; however, by the end of the study, the number of hot flashes in women in the isoflavone group decreased by about 62 percent to less than four per day. In comparison, the placebo group experienced a reduction of only about 31 percent, which is a fairly typical placebo response in hot flash studies.

According to Dr. Mark Messina, an adjunct professor at Loma Linda University, "Women can consume the amount of soy isoflavones used in this trial by incorporating a little more than one serving of traditional soyfoods into their diet each day." Dr. Messina also commented that the Brazilian trial is especially noteworthy because it was 10 months in duration, while most hot flash studies are no more than 12 weeks.

Importantly, no serious adverse effects were reported in the study and isoflavones did not affect the endometrium (the mucous membrane lining the uterus) or the breast. On the basis of the study results, the authors concluded that soy isoflavone supplements are a "safe and effective alternative therapeutic [treatment] for postmenopausal women."

The Women's Health Initiative's abrupt cancellation of their hormone replacement therapy study in 2002 caused many women to seek alternatives to conventional hormone therapy for the alleviation of hot flashes without undesirable side effects. Soyfoods offer an alternative because of their rich isoflavone content. More than 40 trials have examined the ability of either soyfoods or isoflavones to reduce hot flash frequency and/or severity in menopausal women.

According to some estimates, up to 85 percent of menopausal American women experience some level of hot flashes. In addition to relief from menopausal symptoms, findings suggest that soyfoods may help to improve bone and heart health.

The United Soybean Board is comprised of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. For more information on the health benefits of soy and simple recipe suggestions to help add soy to your diet, please visit

SOURCE United Soybean Board
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