Older women with type 2 diabetes who take a daily soy supplement show improvements in cholesterol and insulin levels, according to preliminary study findings. Although women took the supplements for only 12 weeks, the finding suggests that soy may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke, in women after menopause. There were no side effects associated with the supplements, researchers report in the October issue of Diabetes Care. While larger and longer-term studies are needed, the results offer some hope to post menopausal women with type 2 diabetes, who are up to four times more likely to die of heart disease than their healthy peers. Recent study findings showing that the long-term risk of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) outweighs the benefits in postmenopausal women left many wondering where to turn for help.
However, it is too soon to make any recommendations, since it is not clear how much soy is needed to make any recommendations, since it is not clear how much soy is needed to provide cardiovascular protection and in what form it is most effective. The women took a daily supplement containing 30 grams of soy protein plus 132 grams of isoflavones. The soy supplement was associated with an 8% reduction in fasting insulin and an improvement in long-term blood glucose, probably through its effect on total and LDL cholesterol. Total cholesterol fell by about 4% and LDL cholesterol fell by 7%, 12 weeks after taking the daily soy supplement. There was no effect on weight, blood pressure, HDL ("good") cholesterol, or triglycerides, a type of blood fat associated with heart disease. Similarly, the soy supplement did not appear to influence hormonal levels such as estrogen or testosterone.
SOURCE: Reuters; Diabetes Care 2002;25:1709-1714