MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Soy supplements, sometimes promoted as a healthier alternative to estrogen for maintaining bone and relieving menopausal symptoms, don't appear to do so, according to a new study.
"Our study shows that contrary to popular belief, soy isoflavone supplements do not prevent bone loss or alleviate menopausal symptoms," said lead author Dr. Silvina Levis, professor of medicine and director of the Osteoporosis Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
In fact, a greater percent of women taking the supplements had hot flashes after the study than those taking the placebo.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is published Aug.8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers reported no conflicts of interest.
Levis and her colleagues evaluated 248 women between the ages of 45 to 60, all of whom were menopausal. At the study start, they had bone density levels considered healthy.
In a study in which neither the participants nor the researchers knew which women were getting what, the team randomly assigned 126 volunteers to the placebo group and 122 to the soy group. The latter group took 200 milligrams of soy isoflavones a day for two years.
After two years, the researchers measured the hip and spine -- standard areas to screen for bone loss -- to determine whether the soy had made a difference in bone density. It had not.
They also looked at the women's reports of menopausal symptoms. At the beginning, 176 of the women reported one or more symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, loss of libido or vaginal dryness.
The two groups showed no differences in any of the symptoms at the end of the study, except hot flashes: Those taking soy isoflavone supplements actually had more. Of those taking soy supplements, more than 48 percent had
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