Soybean Phytoestrogen May Prevent Bone Loss in Women

Two-year treatment with genistein increases bone density in osteopenic postmenopausal women

TUESDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Two-year treatment with the isoflavone phytoestrogen genistein, which is found in soybeans, helps increase bone mineral density in osteopenic postmenopausal women, according to a report in the June 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Francesco Squadrito, M.D., of Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Policlinico in Messina, Italy, and colleagues randomized 389 postmenopausal women with a bone mineral density less than 0.795 g/cm2 to either 54 mg of genistein daily for 24 months, or placebo.

At two years, bone mineral density at the anteroposterior lumbar spine increased by 0.049 g/cm2 in the treatment group and decreased by 0.053 g/cm2 in the controls. Similar trends were observed in the femoral neck. Genistein treatment also correlated with decreased pyridinoline and deoxypiridinoline excretion, and increased levels of bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and insulin-like growth factor-1, but had no effect on endometrial thickness. More gastrointestinal side effects were noted in the genistein group.

"On the basis of these data, future studies in osteoporotic women are warranted to determine whether genistein also significantly decreases fracture risk in this group," the authors conclude. "In addition, studies are needed to determine whether genistein positively affects bone loss not related to postmenopausal ovarian hormone loss, such as glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis."

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