Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Soy Protein May Reduce Bone Fractures

Soy Protein May Reduce Bone Fractures
By Michael Lemonick Permalink
TIME Magazine Online
One of the arguments used by doctors in support of hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women is that it helps prevent osteoporosis, and thus reduces the chances of the all-too-easy breaking of bones in the female elderly. But in light of the proven danger of hormones increasing the risk of heart problems and cancer, the FDA has been urging women to strengthen their bones in other ways, including calcium supplements and weight-bearing exercise. Now, a new study suggets that soy protein, such as the Asian vegetarian staple tofu, may offer an effective alternative hedge against bone loss.
The current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine reports on the Shanghai Women’s Health Study in China, in which more than 24.000 women with an average age of 60, participated. Dr. Xianglan Zhang and colleagues divided the women into five groups, based on their intake of soy, a significant part of the Chinese diet. When he looked at their relative risk of bone fracture after 4.5 years, the group that ate the most soy protein - more than 13 grams per day - had a 35% lower risk of fracture than those who ate the least (just under 5 grams). The likely explanation for soy's protective power is a set of natural estrogen-like compounds called soy isoflavones, and indeed, when the scientists looked directly at isoflavone consumption (it isn't precisely the same as soy consumption because levels of the chemicals vary in different batches of soy), the group consuming the most isoflavones had a 37% lower risk of fracture.


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