Gaining insight into the health effects of soy but a long way still to go: commentary on the fourth International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease.

Nutrition Matters, Inc., Port Townsend, WA 98368, USA.
Journal of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 4.23). 04/2002; 132(3):547S-551S.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Research into the health effects of soyfoods and soybean constituents has increased at a phenomenal pace over the past decade. This research includes a wide range of areas, such as cancer, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive function, menopausal symptoms and renal function. Importantly, there are an increasing number of clinical studies being conducted in this field, which was quite evident from the findings presented at the Fourth International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, November 4-7, 2001, in San Diego, California. There is no doubt that progress in understanding the health effects of soy is being made, but much of the data are frustratingly inconsistent. For example, there were conflicting results presented at the symposium on the role of isoflavones in bone health. Similarly, presentations painted an unclear picture of the role of isoflavones in cholesterol reduction. The relatively short duration and small sample size of many of the human studies in this field likely contribute to the inconsistent results. Although there are some controversies regarding the safety of soy for certain subsets of the population, special sessions at the symposium on breast cancer and cognitive function did much to alleviate concerns that soy could have detrimental effects in these areas. Furthermore, published data and new research presented at this meeting suggest that the consumption of even 10 g (typical of Asian intake) of isoflavone-rich soy protein per day may be associated with health benefits. If this modest amount of soy protein were to be incorporated in the American diet, it would represent only approximately 15% of total U. S. protein intake.

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