If you have never experienced hot flashes, you cannot imagine how hard to handle them. Working women of certain age are ready to pay any price to get rid of those terrible symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) looked like a good solution. However, there are lots of studies suggesting that women taking HRT are at a great risk of stroke, heart disease and breast cancer. And since soy is a natural food, many health-conscious women mistakenly believe it is a safe choice.
During menopause, a woman’s body produces less estrogen and progesterone. Soy protein has been considered as an alternative treatment, providing benefits of bone preservation and symptom relief, ever since researchers observed that women in Asia tend to have lower rates of bone loss and osteoporosis. Naturally, because of soy’s high phytoestrogen content, the food and supplement industries have widely promoted the message and promptly developed a variety of soy products and pharmaceutical alternatives.
Sorry ladies, but the latest series of disappointing studies show that soy supplements or foods are ineffective in alleviating hot flashes, bone loss and other menopause symptoms. Just take a look at the results of a new study “Soy isoflavones in the prevention of menopausal bone loss and menopausal symptoms: a randomized, double-blind trial” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21824950):
- RESULTS: After 2 years, no significant differences were found between the participants receiving soy tablets (n = 122) and those receiving placebo (n = 126) regarding changes in bone mineral density in the spine, the total hip, or the femoral neck. A significantly larger proportion of participants in the soy group experienced hot flashes and constipation compared with the control group. No significant differences were found between groups in other outcomes.
- CONCLUSIONS: In this population, the daily administration of tablets containing 200 mg of soy isoflavones for 2 years did not prevent bone loss or menopausal symptoms.
Asian women eat small amounts of whole, mostly fermented non-GMO soybean products. To get more profit, in the western food industry the soybeans are separated into two fractions – protein and oil. There is nothing natural or safe about these products.
Isoflavones from soybean products such as tofu, soybean oil, soy flour, soy milk, and soy lecithin disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. This triggers the pituitary to release TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which then promotes the growth of thyroid tissue, eventually leading to goiter. In fact, these produsts are goitrogens. And when the thyroid is suppressed, lots of health problems arise: anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, difficulty losing weight, difficulty conceiving children, digestive problems and food allergies.
Another threat is that soy foods also contain anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, and oxalates, which can interfere with the digestive enzymes. In a small amount it is okay, but when soy foods are eaten in high quantities to treat menopausal symptoms, it’s simply dangerous.
Many studies have linked soy consumption to immune-system breakdown, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility, heart diseases and even cancer.
If you are currently taking soy to relieve your menopausal symptoms, you should know that not only is it ineffective, it could actually do more harm than good. Soy phytoestrogens do have the estrogenic effect of stimulating the growth of breast cancer cells in tissue cultures. So if soy is ineffective, even harmful, what options are women left with? They should stick with the basics – getting enough calcium and vitamin D, exercising regularly, resting well and trying to avoid stress.
To know more about how to eat soy so that it helps not hurts, you might read the following:
- “What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer” by John R. Lee, M.D., David Zava, Ph.D. and Virginia Hopkins. Warner Books, 2002