Phyotestrogens in menopause.

Date:

25-Feb-2002

Source

Minerva Ginecol

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Soy Isoflavones Menopause
Professional Data: Soy Isoflavones Menopause

Article

It is important to remember that menopause itself is not a disease: it is a natural part of life. For many reasons, however, a woman's body may have a difficult time handling the often-erratic hormonal ebbs and flows. Inevitable as it may be, menopause can wreak havoc on a woman's life, subjecting her to a relentless onslaught of symptoms and complaints. The familiar "hot flashes," emotional turmoil, and insomnia are just a few of the miseries women frequently endure during the menopausal years. Menopause has even more serious health implications: a woman's risk of osteoporosis and heart disease sharply rises as she goes through change of life.

Estrogen replacement therapy is probably the most popular solution. While not free of controversy, estrogen replacement therapy delivers a host of benefits that are hard to ignore. For many women it works wonders. But questions persist about the long-term safety of hormone replacement. Disturbing studies suggesting it increases cancer risk have raised considerable fears, but not all the research findings agree. While medical experts debate the long-term safety of estrogen replacement, the jury remains out. In the meantime, women, and their doctors, are left to make the most informed decisions they can about going the hormone replacement route.

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that have estrogen-like activity. Because they are structurally similar to estrogens, isoflavones exert weak estrogenic activity. Because of their estrogen-like effects, isoflavones have been studied for a wide spectrum of health benefits. One of the primary isoflavones in soybeans is genistein. A recent investigation of these isoflavones examined their possible role in menopausal symptoms. Diets were supplemented with 50 mg of genistein daily. After supplementation, studies have shown a decrease in total cholesterol as well as LDL. After taking 90 mg daily, there was a significant increase in bone mineral density. Although more studies are needed, the authors concluded that supplementing with soy isoflavones might ease short and long-term symptoms of menopause.1

References

1. Arena S. A natural alternative to menopausal hormone replacement therapy. Phytoestrogens. Minerva Ginecol. Feb 2002;54(1):53-7.