23rd March 01:52
Supplement doesn’t help postmenopausal women (menopause cholesterol heart cancer estrogen)
Supplement doesn’t help postmenopausal women, researchers sayThe
Updated: 4:05 p.m. ET July 06, 2004
A new study casts doubt on the value of soy powder as a substitute for
estrogen pills. Dutch researchers found that soy did not increase bone
density in postmenopausal women, and did not improve their memory or
cholesterol levels either.
“The results are, of course, very disappointing,” said
study co-author Dr. Sanne Kreijkamp-Kaspers of University Medical
Center in Utrecht. “It would have been nice to have soy as an
Many women and doctors have been looking for alternatives to estrogen
because of recent findings linking estrogen-progestin supplements to
heart disease, breast cancer and senility.
Soy contains compounds called isoflavones that mimic the effects of
estrogen, and it was thought that soy, like estrogen, might ward off
osteoporosis and relieve other symptoms of menopause.
The study, which appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American
Medical Association, involved 202 women ages 60 to 75.
Study may have been timed too late
Half were given supplements of Solae soy protein powder to mix into
their food or drink every day for one year; the other half were given
milk protein supplements. There were no significant differences
between the two groups in mental function, bone density or cholesterol
after one year, despite previous studies showing soy works.
The authors noted that most of the women were long past menopause and
said it is possible the study was timed too late to enable them to
experience any soy-related benefits.
Previous research has suggested that soy might help prevent bone loss
immediately after menopause. “But it is much harder to reverse
the bone loss when the damage is already done,”
Kreijkamp-Kaspers said, adding that the same might be true for mental
It is also possible that other soy products would have different
results. The study, funded by Dutch research organizations, used only
Solae powder, provided by its maker, the Solae Co.
Dr. James Anderson of the University of Kentucky, whose own research
found soy protein lowers cholesterol, said older women should not give
up on soy. With soy’s rising popularity, many manufacturers use
mass-production techniques that can reduce soy protein’s
effectiveness, but purer forms are still beneficial, Anderson said.
Wake Forest University researcher Thomas Clarkson said that soy is
most beneficial in the presence of estrogen and that it can be
effective for postmenopausal women if they also take very low-dose
Solae’s Greg Paul said the study results “do not reflect
the larger body of scientific evidence” showing a variety of
benefits from soy protein.
About equal numbers of women quit the study, mainly because of side
effects, including digestive problems and complaints about the
supplements’ taste. Similar side effects were reported in both
A total of 175 women completed the study.
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