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WFUBMC Researchers Study Soy to Treat Menopause Symptoms

Can a daily serving of soy help keep hot flashes away? Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are recruiting 100 local women with symptoms of menopause to help find out.

Soy protein – found in tofu and other products made from soy beans – has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Women who live in countries where substantial amounts of soy are consumed have fewer adverse menopausal symptoms as well at lower rates of heart disease and breast cancer.

In the 12-week study, the women will drink a daily soy "shake" with varying levels of isoflavones, plant chemicals that act similarly to the hormone estrogen in the body. Researchers believe that isoflavones are responsible for many of soy''s health benefits.

In an earlier pilot study conducted by the Medical Center, women reported less intense hot flashes and night sweats when consuming 34 milligrams of isoflavones daily. The current study calls for women to consume 50 milligrams and 90 milligrams, levels found in a traditional Japanese diet.

"Our goal is to see whether these higher doses will eliminate symptoms," said Gregory Burke, M.D., M.S., co-leader of the study. "We want to find alternatives to hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause."

Numerous studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy reduces symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes, but only about 12-15 percent of women use the therapy, either because of side affects or concerns about a possible increased risk of breast cancer.

Soy is being studied as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy and also for its other health benefits.

The study is open to women 45 and older who have multiple hot flashes or night sweats each day. The researchers will also measure the effects of the soy isoflavones on cholesterol, blood pressure, hormone levels and bone metabolism.

Two other centers will also conduct the study: the University of Tennessee and the University of California at San Diego.

For more information, call Vicki Guchemand at 716-6970.

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