(CBS) Should menopausal women cross soy milk and tofu off their next grocery list?
Many menopausal women turn to soy to stave off nasty effects, like decreased bone density and hot flashes, because estrogen therapy is associated with risks for breast cancer and heart attack. But now researchers are calling for alternatives because a new study showed soy might not even work.
"Women should be reconsidering taking these types of products for menopausal health," Dr. Silvina Levis, lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at the University of Miami, told The New York Times.
For the study - published in the August 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine - researchers gave 126 women a placebo tablet and 122 women 200 mg of soy isoflavone tablets - twice the amount of soy found in a typical Asian diet, according to the researchers. The women, aged 45 to 60, were tracked for nearly five years to see if soy prevented bone loss and menopausal symptoms. At the end of the study, the researchers found no difference in bone loss between both groups. There was also no difference in the severity of night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido - in fact, the women taking soy experienced more hot flashes and constipation.
So what should women do? Some experts aren't even sure - they say researchers need to find better alternative treatments to hormone replacement therapy.
"Perhaps efforts should be directed away from the hope of a one-size-fits-all therapy for menopausal symptoms toward using existing treatments to target the symptoms that disturb patients most," study co-author Katherine Newton, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington Seattle, told Time.
The Mayo Clinic says menopausal symptoms can be treated with medications such as the effective-but risky hormone therapy, low-dose antidepressants, and biphosphonate bone density pills like Boniva and Actonel. They also recommend alternative treatments like vitamin E and black cohosh supplements, and yoga.
The Mayo Clinic has more on menopause treatment options.