Background: As they reach menopause, a majority of women living in Westernized countries experience climacteric symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been used to remediate these symptoms. Recent studies, however, have suggested that HRT may increase the risk of developing breast cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Therefore, many women are looking for alternative treatment options.
Purpose: This trial was a pilot study to assess the effect of a nutritional supplement containing isoflavones from kudzu and red clover, along with other targeted nutrients on menopausal symptoms and markers of breast cancer and CVD risk. Twenty-five menopausal women suffering from severe hot flushes and night sweats completed a 12-week intervention using this combination isoflavone nutritional supplement.
Results: We observed a 46% decrease in reported hot flushes, from an average of 9.7 to 5.2 per day. Quality of life, as assessed by the standardized Greene Questionnaire, showed similar improvement. Two markers of CVD risk, the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and homocysteine, showed modest improvement. A proposed marker of breast cancer risk, the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone to 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, also showed a statistically significant improvement.
Conclusions: The results of this pilot trial suggests that this combination isoflavone nutritional supplement may significantly relieve the most troubling symptoms of menopause, as well as confer some chemopreventive and cardioprotective benefits.