A recent study at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) has discovered a new compound in soybean that can effectively reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.
About 75 percent of menopausal women suffer hot flashes, which are manifested by a sudden, intense, feeling of heat caused by a decline in estrogen levels.
Facts have shown that the countries where a lot of soybeans are consumed rarely suffer hot flashes so the researchers decided to test a compound found abundantly in soy germ, in the form of a daidzein-rich isoflavone-aglycone supplement (DRI).
"What we are trying to find is a safe and effective alternative to hormone therapy," said Dr George Blackburn lead researcher, PhD, Department of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Surgery at BIDMC, Harvard Medical School.
They examined 147 menopausal women divided into three groups and instructed to take one soft-gel DRI capsule a day. They tested two different DRI concentrations, 40 mg or 60 mg, and compared them to a group taking a placebo.
The results showed that after 12 weeks, hot flash frequency was reduced by 52 percent in the 40 mg DRI group and 51percent in the 60 mg DRI group compared with 39 percent in the placebo group.
"Our study found that patients who consumed the soy supplement showed a reduction in the number of hot flashes," said Blackburn
However, he also warned that its long-term use could increase the risk of certain medical disorders such as coronary heart disease or stroke.
"The chemical structure of this compound is very similar to that of our own estrogen, allowing it to act as a regulatory mechanism if the body's natural levels decrease," explains Dr Hope Ricciotti, Obstetrics and Gynecology at BIDMC.
He added that adds that the patients saw an improvement in quality of life also.
"What we found was that the degree of improvement in women taking the DRI supplement was similar to that of alternative therapies such as a serotonin inhibitor but without their negative side effects," he added.
The findings appear in the January issue of Menopause.