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In the News: Soy Supplements Prove Unhelpful for Treating Menopause

8/9/2011 2:19:27 PM

Tags: In the News, Estrogen, Menopause, Study, Soy, Soy SUpplements, Health, Tips

J.PattonUnfortunately, women entering menopause have one less treatment option, according to a new study.

Turns out, soy supplements, which were previously thought to help relieve unwanted symptoms of menopause and promote good bone health, do no such thing. They might even promote those pesky symptoms—more women who took the soy supplements had hot flashes after the study was completed than those who took the placebo.

Researchers evaluated almost 250 menopausal women aged 45 to 60 who had healthy bone density levels are the beginning of the study. Half of them received the soy supplements during the study, and the other half received a placebo. At the end of the study, the two groups reported similar bone density levels and similar amounts of menopausal symptoms—all except for hot flashes. Those taking soy supplements actually reported more hot flashes than the placebo group.

While these boiled soybeans may be full of vitamins and minerals, they provide no
benefits to symptoms of menopause.
Photo by pen3ya/Courtesy

This comes as a huge disappointment to those searching for an alternative treatment to estrogen. This search is an important one, as estrogen comes with a whole list of health risks. Taking estrogen for menopause increases your risk of endometrial cancer, or cancer of the lining of the uterus. Progestin is often prescribed to women who have not had a hysterectomy to help prevent endometrial cancer, but progestin isn’t a perfect fix either. It raises the likelihood that you’ll develop other health problems, including breast cancer. Hormone therapy can also lead to heart attacks, strokes or blood clots.

Fortunately, there are a few alternatives to hormone therapy that may work for you. Many women are finding relief in a low-dose regimen of antidepressants, like Paxil and Prozac. However, if this isn’t the right fit for you, here are some lifestyle change suggestions from the folks at the National Center for Biotechnology Information:

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods
• Dress lightly and in layers
• Get adequate calcium and vitamin D in food or supplements
• Get plenty of exercise
• Perform Kegel exercises daily to strengthen the muscles of your vagina and pelvis
• Practice slow, deep breathing whenever a hot flash starts to come on
• Remain sexually active
• See an acupuncture specialist
• Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi or meditation
• Use water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse

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