Soy for 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?
Studies suggest eating moderate amounts of soy foods is safe for women who’ve had breast cancer [1-2].
Eating soy may lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence (a return of breast cancer) and death, but more studies are needed to confirm these findings [1-2].
Learn more about soy.
Read our perspective on soy and breast cancer recurrence and survival.*
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.
Type of Soy
Soy Reduced Hot Flashes Better Than Placebo?
Randomized controlled trials
Amato et al. 
Levis et al. 
Quella et al. 
Van Patten et al. 
Ferrari et al. 
Ye et al. 
Nahas et al. 
Faure et al. 
Bolaños et al. 
Taku et al. 
6 weeks to
Nelson et al. 
- Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 302(22):2437-43, 2009.
- 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.
- Amato P, Young RL, Steinberg FM, et al. Effect of soy isoflavone supplementation on menopausal quality of life. Menopause. 20(4):443-7, 2013.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ferrari A. Soy extract phytoestrogens with high dose of isoflavones for menopausal symptoms. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 35(6):1083-90, 2009.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.