If you’re a peri-menopausal woman, or a woman who is currently going through the transition period of menopause, consuming soy products may provide you with some health benefits. The composition of soy is similar to the female hormone estrogen, which could be beneficial during peri-menopause because estrogen levels often fluctuate or decrease during this time. However, if you’re thinking about taking soy isoflavone supplements during peri-menopause, always check with your doctor first.
Hot Flash Relief
Hot flashes are unpleasant side effects that commonly occur during peri-menopause in women. Fortunately, ingesting soy may help relieve hot flashes, according a review published in 2012 in the journal “Menopause.” Authors of this review found that taking 54 milligrams of soy isoflavone supplements reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 20.6 percent — and the severity of hot flashes by 26.2 percent in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Decreased Cancer Risks
Peri-menopausal women who ingest soy on a regular basis may benefit from reduced breast cancer risks. According to a review published in 2010 in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” the more soy post-menopausal women ingest, the lower their risk for developing breast cancer.” Another review published in 2014 in “PloS One” found that consuming soy isoflavones may lower breast cancer risks for pre- and post-menopausal women residing in Asian countries (ref. 3).
Blood Cholesterol Benefits
Peri-menopausal women who consume soy regularly may notice improvements in their blood cholesterol levels. The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, reports that a daily intake of soy protein may help lower bad cholesterol, also known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol. This is often the case if you replace foods high in saturated and trans fats with soy, because soy contains heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
Although numerous potential benefits exist for peri-menopausal women who consume soy, use caution when ingesting soy — especially soy isoflavone supplements — on a regular basis. NCCAM reports that studies investigating effects of soy on hot flashes and breast cancer risks during menopause have inconsistent findings. NCCAM also notes that the safety of using soy isoflavone supplements long-term has not been established — and that bloating, nausea and constipation may occur when taking soy supplements.