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More on Soy for Perimenopause Symptoms

Posted Oct 16 2012 12:00am

I know some of you may be sick of my carping on about soy for perimenopause symptoms .  But, I feel strongly I must keep talking about it, and here’s why:

I am a firm believer that just because an “expert” says it so, that does not make it so.

I also feel strongly that if you don’t like the results of one scientific study, stick around.  There will soon be another one that you will like.  That’s because, like the weather, scientific research and studies are constantly changing.

It only makes sense, mind you, because, as we learn more about something we change our point of view.  Or at least we should.

Of course, none of this makes it easy for women who just want to find relief from their perimenopause symptoms.   For women who have felt that soy was helpful for them, 2012 has been a real humdinger of a year, with numerous conflicting studies on the effectiveness of soy .

I have maintained, and will continue to maintain, that based on what I have seen and my personal experience, that soy works for some women in relieving some perimenopause symptoms.

For me, soy helped with my hot flashes and night sweats .  However, for many women soy doesn’t help at all.  Therefore, my official position on the matter has been:

If soy works for you, use it.  If it doesn’t, don’t.

But that’s not the end of the story when it comes to soy. There are now a lot of “experts” who are beating the drum that all soy is bad for you.  Again, I disagree.  However, I am very concerned about whether the sources we may use (soy milk, soy beans, soy burgers, etc.) are actually natural and healthy.

So, I took my concerns to Body LogicMD once again.  You may recall my last post on soy here where I consulted Dr. Keith Wharton.  His answer in that post spawned further questions about this issue.  His answers to those questions follow.

I am interested in knowing what exactly to look for to determine if soy is actually natural or not. Simply saying “soy found in supermarkets” is a broad statement. I know my readers (and me, frankly) would like to know what to look for and how to determine if what is being sold as soy is actually real soy.

Sadly, the FDA allows toxic chemicals in our food supply – organic, all-natural or “regular,” these chemicals exist in many of the foods you purchase every day.

Soy products are under fire because of heavy processing and the many soy products found in supplement. The most recent controversy is a study that uncovered evidence that many soy product – soy burgers, soy shakes, soy bars, infant formulas and many other vegetarian food items – are laced with hexane, due to the use of this explosive chemical solvent in the extraction process of soybeans .

In 2010, a research group of the food and agriculture industry, , conducted a study using FDA-approved and USDA-approved laboratories and methods to determine that amount of hexane being used in soy products, including those claiming to be “all-natural” or “organic.”

You can read more about the study and the controversy by following the links above. This is just one example. In our last discussion, I mentioned the study in the Scientific American that discussed the dishonest labeling of herbal supplements, particularly black cohosh – an herb with a reputation for relieving the symptoms of menopause.

The fact of the matter is that lobbying and money control the FDA and the USDA and other government entities we depend on to “protect” our food supply, and supplements are not a regulated industry. My advice would be to seek unprocessed forms of soy, like edamame.

The issue is not “does soy treat symptoms of menopause,” because yes, it does. A July 2012 study found that it does (in comparison to a placebo) and many women stand by this homeopathic remedy. The issue is the toxins in our food supply – it’s not just soy.

Unless you are shopping at the local farmer’s market or growing your own foods – there are toxins. To reduce the risk, read ingredient labels, if it contains lengthy chemical names, a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce – it is not all-natural.

And, don’t shop in the supplement stores or supplement aisles in the supermarket – those are not regulated and the labels can virtually claim anything.

I will point out that an August 2010 meta-analysis, published in Bone , showed evidence that soy reduced bone density in menopausal women.

However, just to be clear, phytoestrogens can lead to adverse effects in perimenopausal women, including increased cancer risk and early menopause.

A follow-up study published in the February 2012 issue of Cancer Prevention Research found that consumption of soy increased the risk of adverse health conditions in permenopausal women.

Dr. Keith Wharton practices anti-aging and preventive medicine at BodyLogicMD of Pittsburgh located at 681 Andersen Drive, Suite 301 Foster Plaza, Building 6 Pittsburgh, PA 15220 (412) 238-1108. Dr. Wharton helps women and men suffering from menopause, andropause and other hormone imbalances achieve a longer, better life.Using individual, customized wellness programs tailored to address each patient’s specific, personal needs, Dr. Wharton combines customized nutrition and fitness regimens, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, stress reduction techniques and natural bioidentical hormones to ensure his patients enjoy restored energy, improved mental clarity and the highest quality of life possible.


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