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Soy Supplements May Be Safe

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There is an ongoing controversy about the safety of long-term soy supplementation for menopausal women. Isoflavones found in soy have some estrogenic activity and are often taken to relieve symptoms such as hot flashes. A two-year study of 400 women found that the soy supplements did not put women at higher risk of complications such as high blood pressure, cervical cancer or uterine cancer. The supplement used in the study, however, differed significantly from the typical soy supplements sold over the counter. The investigators caution that their conclusion of safety may not extend to all soy supplements.

[American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online, Dec. 22, 2010]

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Soy is fantastic for eliminating hot flashes. I made a drink every morning of soy milk, a banana, cinnamon, flax oil and ground flax seed. It was delicious, and it almost immediately stopped the hot flashes. I drank it every morning for five years. Problem was, my hair was falling out as though I were a cancer patient on chemotherapy. I didn't just lose hair from my head - I lost it from my entire body.

I chalked it up to the Big M, but it was confusing to me that I wasn't losing my head hair from the center of my scalp. One day, I saw an article in a Wild Oats newsletter that discussed soy causing hair loss so, as an experiment, I decided to stop drinking soy milk. Sure enough, within just one week, the hair loss stopped. Unfortunately, the lost hair never grew back in.

Interestingly, a friend of my mom's called her just about that time because her husband had worked soy into his diet immediately experienced the hair loss, and she wanted to know if there was a connection. Since I had just told my mom about my experience, she was able to relay that information to her friend. He immediately stopped the intake of soy, and his hair loss stopped.

My understanding is that all soy products available for consumption in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Is that true? If so, that could be the reason for the less-than-beneficial result.

I've read that soy isoflavones interfere with the uptake of thyroid hormone. Any information on this?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THESE INVESTIGATORS LOOKED FOR SUCH EFFECTS DURING THE STUDY AND FOUND NONE.

Does anyone know if this includes soybeans (edamame?). I am post menopausal and just discovered this delicious, healthy food which I wanted to add to my daily diet. Is this too much?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: USUALLY IT'S FINE TO EAT EDAMAME. IT IS NOT CLEAR, THOUGH, WHETHER YOU WOULD GET THE RESULTS FOUND IN THE STUDY, SINCE THEY WERE USING A SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENT.

Two comments:
(1) I found it impossible to determine whether the study used the kind of soy that comes in soymilk, soy yogurt and ice cream, etc. -- i.e., the kinds of soy we get in common soy products. Thus it wasn't very helpful.

(2) The comment about soymilk causing hairloss was ELECTRIFYING! I have added soymilk to my diet and drink about 1/2 c per day -- and I too have noticed that my hair is thinner than it used to be! YOWIE... I sure as heck don't need THAT, as my hair is already thin due to age-related hormonal changes. This info should be made widely available! Sadly, I will stop the soy milk immediately. Rendering the first conundrum moot, I guess.

Informative post. Cervical Cancer is a malignant neoplasm of the cervix or the cervical area. It may be vaginal bleeding but symptoms may be absent until the cancer is at an advanced stage. Treatment consists of surgery (including local excision) in early stages and chemotherapy and radiotherapy in advanced stages of the disease.

What about those of us who can't eat soy? It gives me terrible migraines. Does that leave Black Cohosh?

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