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Soy may reduce hot flashes during menopause

Soy may reduce discomfort during menopause, according to a recent Italian study. Isoflavones, natural plant elements of soy, can reduce hot flashes. This effect was observed after only six weeks, regardless of the severity of hot flashes.

Annually, millions of women worldwide experience menopause. Menopause symptoms vary from woman to woman, but hot flashes are experienced by most women as very disturbing. Hot flashes typically begin 1 to 5 years after the absence of menstruation. In Western countries, 70% of women experience hot flashes during menopause. Remarkable is the lower rate among Asian women: only 5 to 18% of them suffers from hot flashes. It is thought that the higher consumption of isoflavones - natural plant ingredients from soy - in Asian countries play a role. The results of a recently published Italian study confirm this suspicion.
To test the effect of soy isoflavones the researchers examined 180 women who received tablets containing 80 mg isoflavones (corresponding to 60 mg of genistein) or a placebo. The women were between 40 and 65 years old and had to start the study at least 5 hot flashes per day. After six and after twelve weeks, the number of hot flashes in the isoflavones group decreased significantly more than in the placebo group. After six weeks, the number of hot flashes in women in the isoflavones group decreased by 36% compared to the beginning of the study and after twelve weeks even with 41%. In the placebo group the number of hot flashes also decreased, but less: after 6 weeks by 24% and 29% after 12 weeks. The researchers attributed this decline to the so-called placebo effect. The study concluded that a high daily intake of isoflavones, especially genistein, may be used to treat hot flashes, the main menopause symptom.

Source: Soy extract phytoestrogens with high dose of isoflavones for menopausal symptoms. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2009 Dec;35(6):1083-90.

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