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The effect of soya foods on cognitive function and menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women

grant holder
Dr. Pamela Magee
Northern Ireland Centre for Food & Health, University of Ulster

Consumption of a soy drink has may alleviate vasomotor symptoms in post-menopausal women without affecting mood or cognition.

This study investigated the effects of consuming a soya drink (providing ~ 10mg, 35 mg or 60 mg isoflavones/day) for 12 weeks on cognitive function; mood and menopausal symptoms in women who were ≤ 7 years post-menopausal: 101 post-menopausal women, aged 44-63 years, were randomly assigned to consume a volume of soya drink providing a low (10 mg/day; control group), medium (35 mg/day) or high (60 mg/day) dose of isoflavones for 12 weeks.

Cognitive function nor mood stability or variability were not significantly different between the dietary soy intervention groups.

Although no effects on menopausal symptoms were observed between treatment groups overall, sub-analysis demonstrated a beneficial effect of soya on vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats). When women were stratified according to the severity of their vasomotor symptoms at baseline, those women with more severe symptoms had a significant improvement in vasomotor symptoms following consumption of 350 ml soya drink/day (~35 mg isoflavones) for 12 weeks in comparison to women in this treatment group with less severe symptoms at baseline.

These findings are in agreement with previous studies supporting a role for soya isoflavones in alleviating vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women.

Orlaith Furlong has successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘The effect of soya foods on cognitive function and menopausal symptoms in post-menopausal women.’

Research findings demonstrated that Alpro soya drinks had no effect on cognitive function but had beneficial effects on hot flushes in those women with more severe symptoms at baseline (for the full study see:

Orlaith also investigated consumer attitudes to soya and associations between dietary patterns and cognitive function in postmenopausal women.

Orlaith completed her PhD within the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food at Health at Ulster University under the supervision of Dr Pamela Magee, Dr Liz Simpson, Dr Emeir McSorley and Dr Jacqueline McCormack.