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Soy Supplements Lead to Bone Health
April 15, 2004
An Agricultural Research
Service nutritionist in Houston, Texas, is leading a $4.5 million national
study to answer important questions regarding osteoporosis, the thinning of the
bones that leads to increased risk of bone fracture, a problem that affects
some 20 million American women.
Postmenopausal women are particularly susceptible because their
estrogen production has greatly diminished. Estrogen plays an important role in
slowing bone loss. Therefore, after menopause, bone loss can increase
dramatically, and estrogen replacement therapy may be considered. Estrogen
replacement therapy has been shown to reduce bone loss and fractures, but it
carries some health risks.
As an alternative, taking over-the-counter soy isoflavone
supplements is becoming common among postmenopausal women. However, there is no
documented scientific evidence of either their long-term safety or efficacy in
To help answer this question, William W. Wong, based at the
Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) at
Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is
leading a national study called OPUS, for "Osteoporosis Prevention Using Soy."
The study will determine the benefits, safety and correct dosages of soy
isoflavone supplements to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
The two-year project began in the spring of 2003. It eventually
will involve 400 female volunteers divided between the CNRC in Houston, the
University of Georgia at Athens, the
University of California at Davis and the
Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, Calif. The CNRC is the
coordination center, and Wong is the project director.
OPUS will attempt to determine whether natural soy isoflavones
really are beneficial and safe. One-third of the women will receive 80
milligrams (mg) of isoflavone supplementation per day, one-third will receive
120 mg per day, and the remaining one-third will receive a placebo.
about the research in the April issue of Agricultural Research
The CNRC is operated by Baylor College of Medicine, in
cooperation with Texas
Children's Hospital and ARS. ARS is the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.