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What does science say about soy?

Created date

February 26th, 2013

In recent years, soy and soy-based foods have become quite popular. They ve been touted as a miracle supplement for a number of things from menopause symptoms to cancer prevention. But what s the real deal behind this relative of the pea? The focus of much of the research on soy has been on the soybean, which is high in protein and contains compounds called isoflavones, which are similar in chemical structure to estrogen.

Soy s benefits

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), research indicates that taking soy protein every day may lower your level of LDL ( bad ) cholesterol. In some studies, scientific evidence to date also supports an association between soy isoflavone supplements and a decrease in hot flashes associated with menopause. NCCAM reports that there is not enough solid evidence to support the safety or efficacy of soy on any other health conditions, including memory problems, high blood pressure, or certain cancers. Much of the current research supported by NCCAM deals with how soy affects heart disease, breast cancer, menopause symptoms, and bone loss. While some people experience side effects from soy such as nausea, bloating, or constipation, for the most part, soy is safe to eat in foods, and is also okay in supplement form but only if taken for short periods of time. That s mainly because there is some question about long-term soy supplement use and a possible association with breast cancer or other diseases that may be affected by estrogen. As with any other over-the-counter medication or supplement, it is always best to ask your doctor if it s right for you.