Soy Concluded Ineffective for Menopause Symptoms

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For many years, soy has been the homeopathic remedy for many women suffering from the symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes and night sweats. Over the years, researchers have attempted to draw conclusions on whether or not soy products are truly effective for menopause symptoms and if they are even safe.

It would seem one more study has been added to the already rather large pile refuting the efficacy of soy for the treatment of menopause.

Plant-based estrogens, also known as phytoestrogens, are found naturally in soybeans and some nuts and seeds. These phytoestrogens have the ability to mimic the activity of human estrogen because of the similar chemical structure between the two.

This has led many women to turn to phytoestrogens instead of hormone therapy for menopause relief. The stray from hormone therapy is often related to cost or fear of the effects.  Twenty years ago, fear of hormone therapy was commonplace with the abrupt halt of the Women’s Health Initiative, a study of the effects of hormone therapy on menopausal women. The study was discontinued less than halfway through completion due to the onset of chronic disease in subjects following treatment with hormone therapy. Research over the last ten years has found that the Women’s Health Initiative was a poorly designed study and that the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.

The use of soy for the treatment of menopause has remained popular among women seeking homeopathic alternatives. Desperate, many women have turned to shakes, pills and food items containing soy for relief – making millions of dollars for supplements makers.

Supplement makers are truly reaping all the rewards, as a ten-year study, published in the journal, Menopause, came to a close in late October finding that neither fiber nor soy effectively treat symptoms of menopause in a majority of women. There is evidence that some women may benefit, but why these few women experienced relief is a question to be answered in a follow-up study.

William Wong, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine who has studied the effects of soy protein on menopause symptoms is not in favor of continuing to study the impact of dietary estrogen on menopause symptoms. He told Reuters Health, “After looking at our own clinical trial data and others, we don’t see it. I think we should move on.”

Dr. Keith Wharton, Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Pittsburgh, tends to agree with Wong, stating in an article on the topic, “It has never been fully embraced by patients or physicians because it does not seem to be very effective. Sometimes patients will get short-term relief of their symptoms. Other times it does not seem to work at all. There have been many clinical studies, which fail to show an effect. Effective treatment plans for menopause are not found over the counter.”