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Health News Archive 192 - Bone Health
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Soy Protein Reduces Bone Fracture Risk

Researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville and the Shanghai Cancer Institute in Shanghai, China, examined the relationship between usual soy food consumption and fracture incidence in 24,403 postmenopausal women.  These subjects had no history of fracture or cancer and were recruited between March 1997 and May 2000 for the Shanghai Women's Health Study, a cohort study of approximately 75,000 Chinese women aged 40 to 70 years.

Usual soy food intake was assessed at baseline and reassessed during follow-up through in-person interviews using a validated food frequency questionnaire.  Outcomes were ascertained by biennial in-person interview surveys.

During a mean follow-up of four and a half years, 1770 incident fractures were identified.  Postmenopausal women who ate the most soy protein had a 37% lower risk of bone fracture compared to women who consumed the least soy. The benefit was greatest for women within 10 years of menopause, as high soy food consumption in that group was related to an approximately 50% reduction in bone fracture risk. Consumption of five grams or more of soy daily was associated with protection against fracture. Those who consumed more than 13 grams of soy daily—providing more than 60 milligrams of soy isoflavones—saw the most benefit for bone health.

“Soy, a rich source of plant estrogens, has been shown to modulate bone turnover and increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women,” researcher Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, said. Although this study examined only dietary soy consumption, Dr. Shu noted that “it is likely that soy supplementation and soy foods have a similar beneficial effect in preventing bone fracture.”  Investigators concluded that soy food consumption may reduce the risk of fracture in post-menopausal women, particularly among those in the early years following menopause.

Source: Zhang X, Shu XO, Li H, et al. Prospective cohort study of soy food consumption and risk of bone fracture among postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Sep 12;165(16):1890-5.

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