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When Soy meets Girl by Tori Hudson, N.D.

As a practitioner who advises women as to their health care decisions I have had to come to some decision about the safety and effectiveness of soy while always being open for more scientific information to unfold. Here are ten things I tell my patients:

  • Some women may have improvement with hot flashes with daily soy foods in the diet.
  • We know that women who eat high soy diets during their lifetime have significantly less breast cancer.
  • We know that soy phytoestrogens are significantly weaker than estrogen.
  • A review of the biological effects of soy, the mechanisms of action and metabolism of soy, and a review of the epidemiologic and animal studies most all of which provides evidence as to the cancer prevention effects of soy phytoestrogens.
  • Most women can and would be advised to eat one to two servings of soy foods daily.
  • Breast cancer patients who are on Tamoxifen should probably avoid soy foods daily. One to two times per week is reasonable.
  • Choose organic soy foods and products.
  • Soy foods do not cause low thyroid function, in most all individuals. There are rare exceptions. There is no interference of soy foods with thyroid medications.
  • Soy foods can help to prevent heart disease.
  • Do not be afraid of soy foods.

As greater use of soy products and serious research continues, we will accumulate more information about the many uses and effects of soy in women. For now, the research supports the use of soy foods to lower our risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, uterine cancer and colon cancer. For some of us, it may help with hot flashes as well. We will also develop a greater understanding of some of the limitations of soy, as well as some potential negative influences it may have on some individuals and in some circumstances.

There are many excellent soy food products on the market. I would encourage you to look for those soy foods derived from organic soybeans and foods closest to their natural state. That would include organic soymilk, soybeans, edamame and roasted soy nuts. Read labels to learn the soy isoflavone content, the calcium content and the protein content.

The many potential clinical effects of soy in women position soy foods and soy products as valuable medicinal foods in women's health today for both prevention and treatment. The variety of whole, organic soy foods and products available make soy a convenient, versatile and tasty part of a healthy diet, as well.


1 Huntley A, Ernst E. Soy for the treatment of perimenopausal symptoms- a systematic review. Maturitas 2004;47:1-9

2 Krebs E, Ensrud K, MacDonald R, Wilt T. Phytoestrogens for Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review. Obstet Gyn 2004;104:824-836

3 Arjmandi B, Alekel L, Hollis B, Amin D, Stacwicz-Sapuntzakis M, Guo , Kukreja S. Dietary soybean protein prevents bone loss in an ovariectomized rat model of osteoporosis. J Nutr 1996;126:161-167

4 Blair H, Jordan S, Peterson T, Barnes S. Variable effects of tyrosine kinase inhibitors on avian osteoclastic activity and reduction of bone loss in ovariectomized rats. J cell Biochem. 1996;61:629-637.

5 Somekawa Y, Ghiguchi M, Ishibashi T, Aso T. Soy intake related to menopausal symptoms, serum lipids, and bone mineral density in postmenopausal Japanese women. Obstet Gyn 2001;97:109-115.

6 Greendale G, Fitzgerald G, Huang M, et al. Dietary soy isoflavones and bone mineral density: Results from the study of women's health across the nation. Am J Epidemiol 2002;155:746-754.

7 Anderson J, Johnstone B, Cook-Newell M. Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med 1995;333(5):276-82.

8 Messina M, Loprinzi C. Soy for breast cancer survivors: A critical review of the literature. J Nutr 2001;131:3095S-3108S.

9 Badget T, Ronis M, Simmen R, Simmen F. Soy protein isolate and protection against cancer. J Amer College of Nutrition 2005;24(2): 146S-149S.

10 Nikander E, Rutanen E, Nieminen P, et al. Lack of effect of isoflavonoids on the vagina and endometrium in postmenopausal women. Fertility and Sterility 2005;83: 137-142.

11 Goodman M, Wilkens L, et al. Association of soy and fiber consumption with the risk of endometrial cancer. Am J epid 1997;146(4):294-306.

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