IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Soy protein may reduce risk of bone fractures

Eating soy-based foods lessens the progress of osteoporosis in women after menopause, when hormonal changes can  increase the risk of fractures, researchers said.
/ Source: Reuters

Eating soy-based foods lessens the progress of osteoporosis in women after menopause, when hormonal changes can rapidly thin bones and increase the risk of fractures, researchers said on Monday.

Bone loss is particularly quick in women during the five to seven years after menopause when a drop-off in estrogen levels may cause them to lose up to 5 percent of bone mass yearly, the report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said.

Replacing estrogen through hormone replacement therapy has been found to carry health risks, including stroke, and soy protein has been viewed as a possible alternative.

Other ways for menopausal women to retard bone loss suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are to exercise more and increase consumption of calcium and vitamin D.

In the study, a sampling of 24,000 women participating in the three-year Shanghai Women’s Health Study found post-menopausal women who ate the most soy protein had a 37 percent lower risk of bone fracture compared to women who consumed the least soy. There were a total of 1,770 bone fractures reported, said study author Xianglan Zhang of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“In this prospective cohort study of post-menopausal women, we found that soy food consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of fracture, particularly among women in the early years following menopause,” he wrote.

The women were divided into five categories of soy consumption, with those in the highest consuming group eating at least 13 grams per day, while the low-consuming group ate 5 grams per day. Average consumption was 8.5 grams, based on the reported consumption of soy products such as soy milk, tofu, soy sprouts and fresh soybeans.

Soy protein has been found to have beneficial effects on other symptoms of menopause, and may reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and hormone-related cancers, the report said. But like estrogen, it may stimulate growth of certain cells that may heighten the risk of breast cancer.