The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Soy and relief of menopausal symptoms

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, it’s important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: Soy foods and soy supplements have been suggested as ways to relieve menopausal symptoms. Findings from randomized controlled trials are mixed. Some show soy can reduce hot flashes, while others do not.

Learn more about ways to treat menopausal symptoms.

Are soy foods safe?

Current studies suggest eating moderate amounts of soy foods is safe for breast cancer survivors [1-2].

Eating soy may lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality, but more studies are needed to confirm these findings [1-2].  

Learn more about soy.

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Komen Perspectives

Read our perspective on soy and breast cancer recurrence and survival (April 2015).*

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.

Study selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials with at least 75 participants and meta-analyses.

Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk. 

Study

Study Population
(number of participants)

Treatment Duration

Type of Soy

Soy Reduced Hot Flashes
More Than Placebo? 

Randomized controlled trials

Amato et al. [3]

406
women never diagnosed with cancer

2 years

Soy tablet

No

Levis et al. [4]    

182
women never diagnosed with cancer 

2 years

Soy tablet

No

Quella et al. [5]

175
breast cancer survivors

4 weeks

Soy tablet

No

Van Patten et al. [6]

123
breast cancer survivors

12 weeks

Soy beverage

No

Ferrari et al. [7]

121
women never diagnosed with cancer 

12 weeks

 Soy tablet

Yes

Ye et al. [8]

84
women never diagnosed with cancer

24 weeks

Soy capsule

Yes

Nahas et al. [9]

80
women never diagnosed with cancer

10 months

Soy capsule

Yes

Faure et al. [10]

75
women never diagnosed with cancer

16 weeks

Soy capsule

Yes

Meta-analyses

Bolaños et al. [11]

17 studies

12 weeks

Various

Yes

Taku et al. [12]

17 studies

6 weeks to
12 months

Various

Yes

Nelson et al. [13]

5 studies

4-6 weeks

Various

No

 

4 studies

12-16 weeks

Various

Yes

 

2 studies

6 months

Various

Yes

 
References  

  1. Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 302(22):2437-43, 2009.
  2. Nechuta SJ, Caan BJ, Chen WY, et al. Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival: an in-depth analysis of combined evidence from cohort studies of US and Chinese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 96(1):123-32, 2012. 
  3. Amato P, Young RL, Steinberg FM, et al. Effect of soy isoflavone supplementation on menopausal quality of life. Menopause. 20(4):443-7, 2013.
  4. Levis S, Strickman-Stein N, Ganjei-Azar P, Xu P, Doerge DR, Krischer J. Soy isoflavones in the prevention of menopausal bone loss and menopausal symptoms: a randomized, double-blind trial. Arch Intern Med. 171(15):1363-9, 2011.
  5. Quella SK, Loprinzi CL, Barton DL, et al. Evaluation of soy phytoestrogens for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors: A North Central Cancer Treatment Group Trial. J Clin Oncol. 18(5):1068-74, 2000.
  6. Van Patten CL, Olivotto IA, Chambers GK, et al. Effect of soy phytoestrogens on hot flashes in postmenopausal women with breast cancer: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. J Clin Oncol. 20(6):1449-55, 2002.
  7. Ferrari A. Soy extract phytoestrogens with high dose of isoflavones for menopausal symptoms. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 35(6):1083-90, 2009.
  8. Ye YB1, Wang ZL, Zhuo SY, et al. Soy germ isoflavones improve menopausal symptoms but have no effect on blood lipids in early postmenopausal Chinese women: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Menopause. 19(7):791-8, 2012.
  9. Nahas EAP, Nahas-Neto J, Orsatti FL, Carvalho EP, Oliveira MLCS, Dias R. Efficacy and safety of a soy isoflavone extract in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study. Maturitas. 58(3):249-58, 2007.
  10. Faure ED, Chantre P, Mares P. Effects of a standardized soy extract on hot flushes: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Menopause. 9(5):329-34, 2002.
  11. Bolaños R, Del Castillo A, Francia J. Soy isoflavones versus placebo in the treatment of climacteric vasomotor symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis. Menopause. 17(3):660-6, 2010.
  12. Taku K1, Melby MK, Kronenberg F, Kurzer MS, Messina M. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 19(7):776-90, 2012.
  13. Nelson HD, Vesco KK, Haney E, et al. Nonhormonal therapies for menopausal hot flashes: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 295(17):2057-71, 2006.

*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.

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