Are Soy Supplements Effective in Treating Menopause Symptoms?
Although menopause is not officially considered as a medical condition and does not really require treatment, women who are too distressed with the intensity of their symptoms would like to find alleviation from their discomforts. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been considered as the prime source for menopause symptoms treatment, until new studies found that HRT may increase risk of breast cancer and stroke among menopausal women. There are other alternative treatment options, such as taking supplements, which may or may not help women deal with their dilemmas with menopause. One subject of controversy relating to menopause symptoms is soy supplements.
Why Are Soy Supplements Controversial?
Soy has been considered as a natural treatment for menopause symptoms, specifically hot flashes and osteoporosis, because it is rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are derived estrogen from plants and act like normal body estrogen. Since menopause is the decline or loss of estrogen in the body, scientists found it sensible to add estrogen from another source in order to alleviate menopause symptoms.
In Asia where soy abounds, menopausal women are observed to have a lesser tendency to develop osteoporosis. Bone loss density is found relatively fewer among people who consume soy protein regularly.
However, a study conducted involving 250 menopausal women who had a dose of soy isoflavone tablets for two years found no significant improvements in treating menopause symptoms compared to the placebo group. In fact, the study found that soy may even worsen menopause conditions.
The reasons for the assumption that soy may help alleviate hot flashes and bone loss is because soy typically contains ganestein and daidzein – substances which act like estrogen. However, soy also contains a substance called goitrogens which inhibits the proper function of the thyroids.
When the thyroid functions are disrupted, it may result to:
- Mood swings
- Development of food allergies
- Difficulty to get pregnant
- Difficulty to lose weight
Furthermore, research also points out that Asians tend to have more access to the purer and non-GMO types of soy as compared to Westerners whose soy foods tend to be processed and this can make a lot of difference.
According to Dr. Silvina Levis, the lead researcher, the best thing menopausal women can do is to reconsider their options since soy isoflavone tablets do not seem to give their assumed benefits.
Furthermore, if menopausal women are suffering from bone loss, they may get their treatment from other sources such as taking in enough calcium and Vitamin D.
Given that there are contrasting arguments regarding soy supplements, it is best to determine other treatment options that do not depend on supplements. Still, the best way to deal with menopause is to focus more on a balanced diet, develop a healthy lifestyle, and deal with menopause with a positive perspective.