Menopause is a natural part of aging and not a disease. However, hot flashes and night sweats can make life uncomfortable for many years. A great deal of attention has been focused on soy for menopause relief.
Women in Asian cultures have a very low incidence of hot flashes and other menopausal discomforts, such as night sweats. Dietary differences may be one possible reason for the low incidence of menopausal discomforts in these cultures. Asian women typically consume more vegetables, grains, and beans and less animal protein compared to women in Western cultures. Since soy is a major component of Asian diets, soy for menopause has become an active area of medical investigation.
Other studies also suggest that dietary soy for menopause relief may be beneficial. In one study, soy isoflavones were reported to increase the percent of women who no longer endured hot flashes and reduced the number of hot flashes in other women (Medical Reference 2). In another study on soy and menopause, it was reported that isoflavones reduced a large number of menopausal discomforts (Medical Reference 3).
While few studies have examined different amounts of isoflavones, there is evidence that higher amounts may be important. A recent study showed that 35 mg of soy isoflavones had no effect, while 70 mg effectively reduced hot flashes (Medical Reference 4).
These and other studies indicate that the positive effects of soy for menopause relief are often observed within 1 – 3 months of regular consumption (Medical References 5, 6). In some studies, these reductions were not always significantly different from the placebo control group.
In summary, numerous studies on soy and menopause relief have shown that isoflavones can have a positive effect on menopausal hot flashes and that these beneficial effects may be related to initial hot flash frequency and intensity.
1. Messina M, Hughes C. Efficacy of soy foods and soybean isoflavone supplements for alleviating menopausal symptoms is positively related to initial hot flash frequency. J Med Food 2003; 6:1-11
2. Nahas EP, Neto JN, De Luca L, Traiman P, Pontes A, Dalben I. Benefits of soy germ isoflavones in postmenopausal women with contraindication for conventional hormone replacement therapy. Maturitas 2004; 48:372-380.
3. Han KK, Soares Jr JM, Haidar MA, de Lima GR, Baracat EC. Benefits of soy isoflavone therapeutic regimen on menopausal symptoms. Obstet Gynecol 2002; 99:389-394
4. Jou HJ, Ling PY, Wu SC. Comparison of 70 mg and 35 mg isoflavone soya supplement for menopause symptoms. Intl J Gynecol Obstet 2005; (In Press)
5. Crisafulli A, Marini H, Bitto A, Altavilla D, Squadrito G, Romeo A, Adamo EB, Marini R, D’Anna R, Corrado F, Batolone S, Frisina N, Squadrito F. Effects of genistein on hot flushes in early postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, EPT- and placebo-controlled study. Menopause 2004; 11:400-404.
6. Ricciotti HA, Khaodhiar L, Blackburn GL. Daidzein-rich isoflavone-aglycones for menopausal symptoms. Intl J Gynecol Obstet 2005; 89:65-66