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Soy-Rich Diets May Not Prevent Hot Flashes in Most Menopausal Women
Date:11/23/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Consuming soy products doesn't prevent hot flashes and night sweats in most women, a large study suggests.

Imagine sitting down for a job interview and suddenly feeling very warm and starting to noticeably perspire. Or consider how it feels to frequently lose sleep from drenching night sweats. Of all the symptoms of menopause, women say hot flashes and night sweats often are the most annoying.

The symptoms are caused by fluctuating or decreasing levels of the female hormone estrogen.

Many women are not willing or able to take supplemental estrogen to control hot flashes and night sweats, known as "vasomotor" symptoms, related to widening and narrowing of blood vessels. Some women opt to add dietary soy products like tofu and soy milk to their diet. Also called phytoestrogens, they have a chemical structure similar to estrogen and are thought to mimic the effect of the female hormone in the body.

The study was published online recently and will appear in the March 2013 print issue of the journal Menopause.

"We were interested in finding ways to help women control their own health, and we were hopeful that soy products would prove to be a good alternative to hormone therapy," said lead study author Ellen Gold, professor and chairwoman of the department of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis. Unfortunately, she said, soy "doesn't seem, on average, to prevent these unpleasant symptoms before the onset of menopause."

The study analyzed data from a nationwide study that followed more than 3,000 women who were beginning to experience changes associated with menopause or had not yet begun to have symptoms of menopause. Their ages ranged from 42 to 52 years old at the start of the study.

Participants answered detailed surveys about their dietary habits and fiber intake before
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