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Why Soy for Hot Flashes Works for Some, Not All

Adding whole soy foods to your diet may quell hot flashes, but it's only likely to help if you're one of those women whose bodies produce equol, a soy metabolite. A study published online on November 6, 2014 by the journal Menopause concludes that 20 to 50 percent of North American and European women produce equol. Seattle area researchers surveyed women in a local health care system to identify those who didn't use hormone replacement therapy and who also consumed soy foods at least three times a week. The women who agreed to participate in the study were asked to report on the number and severity of their hot flashes and night sweats. Urine tests showed that only 34 percent of the 357 women volunteers produced equol. Among those women, 76 percent who regularly consumed soy reported a less than average number of hot flashes and night sweats. The researchers noted that measuring equol is done only in research centers, but women can get a reliable indication of whether or not soy foods will help quench their hot flashes by adding them to their diets for four to six weeks. If there's no change, you can assume that soy won't be effective for you. The researchers noted that the positive effect of soy for women who do produce equol still has to be studied and confirmed in larger controlled, randomized studies.