Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Soy Doesn't Prevent Hot Flashes, Study Suggests

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 2, 2012 -- Tofu, edamame, and soy milk may be healthy foods, but if you are a menopausal woman eating them, they may not do much to prevent hot flashes and night sweats.

That finding comes from a new study of 1,651 women. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) followed the women for 10 years, starting when the women were in their 40s and early 50s.

None had menopause-related hot flashes when they enrolled in the study, but many experienced them over the next decade.

The study showed no evidence that women whose diets contained more soy were less bothered by hot flashes and night sweats than women who ate little soy.

The researchers say very few of the women took soy supplements.

The research examining the impact of soy on hot flashes has been mixed for both soy-rich foods and supplements, says North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Executive Director Margery Gass, MD.

“Typically if something works, even if all the studies don’t show it, the majority will,” she says. “That is not what we have seen in the soy (and hot flash) studies.”

Estrogen, Soy, and Hot Flashes

Soybeans and foods made from them are rich in plant nutrients called phytoestrogens that are believed to act like a weaker version of estrogen.

Estrogen levels naturally drop during menopause. That's thought to trigger hot flashes and night sweats. Some people turn to soy foods and supplements to try to prevent these symptoms.

Asian women who live in countries where soy is a big part of the diet report far fewer hot flashes than women living in Western countries, and one theory has been that their diets protect them.

The new study, which appears in the March issue of the NAMS journal Menopause, included white, African-American, and Asian women in the U.S.

It differed from much of the previous research by excluding women who were already having hot flashes.

“We wanted to see if dietary phytoestrogens could prevent hot flashes in women who were not yet having them,” says researcher Ellen Gold, PhD, a professor and chair of the UC Davis department of public health sciences.

This research is very preliminary, and Gold says even though the soy and hot flash studies are inconclusive, there is little downside to eating soy-rich foods or taking soy supplements.

“Many women cannot or won’t take hormone therapy,” she says. “I don’t see anything wrong with taking soy supplements in reasonable doses. If it gives someone relief, ultimately that is what counts.”

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections