44 of the world's top soy nutrition researchers gathered at the symposium to present their latest findings, which benefits consumers looking to make informed decisions about soy in a healthy diet. One of the most active areas of research in soy nutrition is the relationship between soy and breast cancer. At the symposium, Dr. Mary Hardy, Medical Director of the UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, presented evidence that modest soy consumption during adolescence reduces the risk of breast cancer later in life. She also presented research that suggests soy consumption improves the prognosis of breast cancer patients and showed clinical data that demonstrates the safety of soyfoods for breast cancer patients.
Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto presented research on the direct and indirect relationships between soy and cholesterol. The direct benefit of soy for lowering cholesterol is that soy protein lowers blood cholesterol by 4%. The indirect benefit is that a decrease in cholesterol occurs when soyfoods replace protein sources that are higher in saturated fat. Jenkins estimates that the combined effect of these benefits can reduce the risk of heart disease by at least 10%. In 1999, the FDA approved the claim that 25 grams of soy protein per day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, based on the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy protein.
James Anderson of the University of Kentucky also presented evidence of the beneficial effects of soy protein on serum cholesterol levels, suggesting that 15-25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of coronary vascular disease by approximately 15%.
For the last 15 years, researchers have been studying the effect of the isoflavones found in soy on hot flashes in menopausal women. Dr. Mindy Kurzer presented findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis of 18 placebo-controlled clinical studies. She found that soybean isoflavones significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of hot flashes. This type of research solidifies the use of soy isoflavones as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for the alleviation of hot flashes during menopause.
For postmenopausal women, a study was conducted by Robin Van Den berg to test the effects of a soy-based drink on skin aging. The results showed significant reduction in wrinkle depth.
The United Soybean Board and the Soyfoods Association of North America co-sponsor this annual event held in the fall. Visit USB at unitedsoybean.org or SANA at soyfoods.org for more information about the presenters and findings from the Soy Symposium. We also offer a wide array of information on our website: nsrl.illinois.edu
Bridget Owen, Associate Director, NSRL