Posts Tagged "soy isoflavones"

Got fat? Soyrry but soy won’t help!

Posted by on Mar 22, 2010 in weight | 1 comment

Novel research suggests that eating soy protein won’t affect overall body composition, even though there has been some past evidence that isoflavones in soy may help build muscle mass and break down fat. What’s the 4-11?

In this latest bit of data, 299 postmenopausal women with body-mass indices of around 25 (signifying “overweight”) too either placebo or soy isoflavone tablets for a year. The findings? Ingesting soy isoflavones had no significant effect on either body composition or on specific hormones that control appetite. The one factor that contributed to fat mass? The amount of total fat consumed.

Seems that the way to a more muscle mass is not through soy but rather, through a healthy diet and of course, exercise. Still, can we women ‘of a certain age’ get rid of the tire that’s forming around our middle? I’d love to hear how if you’ve got some ideas. Even my trainer admits that hormonal changes add to the roll and that it’s difficult to get rid of it completely.

Fortunately, the folks at Rush University Medical Center will be studying this midlife dilemma over the next five years. While they say that there’s no way to completely eliminate the tire, there are ways to minimize it. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday Bubble: herbs for breast cancer prevention

Posted by on Oct 21, 2009 in breast cancer | 7 comments


In keeping in line with my commitment to inspiring, breast cancer-related bubbles during the month of October, I am happy to share some rather promising news.

This week, it comes from Germany and was reported this past August in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention: while hormone replacement therapy appears to increase the risk of breast cancer, use of herbal preparations containing phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds that act similar to estrogen) may actually prevent the most invasive type.

Wow! Sounds promising, right?

There has been a lot of noise surrounding the effectiveness of plant-based estrogens (e.g. soy isoflavones) for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. Some studies suggest they work and others, that they don’t. In fact, I do believe that the verdict is still out, although when used properly and in coordination with a licensed practitioner, they might very well be worth trying — much more so than health risk laden hormones. Moreover, if their use does actually reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, which is the exact opposite of hormone therapy, well, then I am all for them!

In this particular investigation, researchers examined how and when over 10,000 postmenopausal women were using herbs and any possible relationship to development of breast cancer. The findings? Women who used herbs had a 26% lower risk of ever developing invasive breast cancer than those who did not. That’s quite a bit, right?

The researchers are unclear why this may be. However, I’m certainly encouraged by the news, news that an herb a day may keep breast cancer away. Definitely inspired by the fact that a natural compound might both improve  menopausal symptoms and offer protection. Happy Wednesday!

[Note! Many oncologists recommend that women with estrogen-positive tumours or those who are prone to them avoid plant based estrogens. As always it is essential to speak to a practitioner before using any over the counter herbal preparation!]

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Wednesday Bubble: close to the bone

Posted by on Jul 15, 2009 in bone health | 0 comments

Let’s be honest; bone loss is a natural part of aging.

As I’ve written previously, women are at particularly high risk for bone loss as they age because of declining estrogen levels, and in turn, a reduced ability to prevent an increase in net bone resorption (or bone loss due to the activity of bone cells). Although isoflavones (plant derived compounds with estrogen-like properties) have been reported to protect bone from deficiencies in estrogen, there have been little data that show that they can specifically influence resorption.

Hence, I was interested in a small study published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism examining of four different types of isoflavone supplements on bone resorption. In it, researchers compared supplements containing the isoflavones soy cotyledon (derived from the leaf coating around the seed of the soybean), soy germ (the embryo of the soybean), kudzu and red clover to 1 mg estradiol plus 2.5 mg medroxyprogesterone or 5 mg/day of the anti-osteoporosis agent Actonel®.

Study findings showed that the hormones plus progesterone or Actonel significantly decreased net bone resorption by as much as 22% and 24%, respectively. In comparison, only soy isoflavones derived from the cotyledon and germ had a significantly modest effect on reducing bone resorption (by 9% and 5%, respectively), while kudzu and red clover did not.

Clearly, this study, while small, shows that isoflavones can help to prevent bone loss during menopause. However, not all isoflavones are created equal, and source appears to as important as insuring that the product is standardized and manufactured in a licensed facility. What’s also notable about this study is that the researchers did not examine whether or not ingesting the specific isoflavones via food sources would have an equally beneficial effect.

Because it can be difficult to discern which products contain which types of isoflavones and the amounts, it’s best to speak to a nutritionist or a naturopath before supplementing your diet. No bones about it though; the results are promising enough to warrant further study.

What steps are you taking to prevent bone loss as you age? And if you use soy, in what forms are you taking it?

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More on soy

Posted by on Feb 6, 2009 in colon cancer | 2 comments

I’ve posted several times about the potential effectiveness of soy isoflavones for safely relieving certain symptoms such as hot flashes. You can find those posts here.

Evidence now suggests that the benefits of soy may extend beyond troublesome menopause symptoms.  In fact, it appears that eating soy foods may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer after menopause.

In this study, published in February’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined 68,412 women (ages 40 to 70) who were cancer- and diabetes-free at the start of the trial. Information on soy food intake was assessed at the start and then at follow up through in-person interviews and questionnaires.

Over the entire study, 321 colorectal cancer cases were identified. However, after adjusting any factors that might skew the results, the researchers found that:

  • Total soy food intake was associated with a lower risk for developing colorectal cancer
  • For each 5 gram increase daily in soy foods (~1 oz tofu), there was an 8% reduction in cancer risk
  • The association between intake of soy foods and lowered colorectal cancer risk was mostly seen in post-menopausal women

Similar results were also observed for soy protein intake and isoflavones.

These promising findings suggest the potential to not only glean benefit from eating soy-rich foods during menopause but also well beyond menopause. Encouraging news!

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Soy-ta interesting….

Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 in herbal medicine | 1 comment

A new study suggests that a key component of an isoflavone found in soy, confers significant improvements in mood-related symptoms in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who lack the ability to produce this component on their own. The component, which is called S-equol, is involved in the metabolism of an isoflavone known as daidzein.

In this study, which appears  in the online edition of the journal Menopause, researchers randomly and blindly assigned 134 women to daily placebo, 10 mg of equol daily or 10 mg equol three times a day. All study participants also completed questionnaires at the study’s start and after the completion of the study on menopausal symptoms and moods. Additionally, they underwent physical exams and urine testing.

The results showed that women taking equol experienced significant declines in all menopausal mood symptoms except depression (although compared to women who were assigned placebo, the decline in depression was significant).

Overall, women taking equol showed significant declines in tension-anxiety and fatigue, and improvements in vigor scores. No side effects were noted, except for a rash in one woman taking equol.

These data suggest that supplementation with S-equol may help to improve mood-related symptoms in peri- and post-menopausal women. What’s more, the team concluded that equol supplementation may offer a promising alternative to estrogen therapy.

Sorta interesting, right?!

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