Background: To investigate the relationship between soy consumption, COPD risk and the prevalence of respiratory symptoms, a case-control study was conducted in Japan.
Methods: A total of 278 eligible patients (244 men and 34 women), aged 50-75 years with COPD diagnosed within the past four years, were referred by respiratory physicians, while 340 controls (272 men and 68 women) were recruited from the community. All participants underwent spirometric measurements of respiratory function. Information on demographics, lifestyle characteristics and habitual food consumption was obtained using a structured questionnaire.
Results: Total soy consumption was positively correlated with observed lung function measures. The mean soy intake was significantly higher among controls (59.98, SD 50.23 g/day) than cases (44.84, SD 28.5 g/day). A significant reduction in COPD risk was evident for highest versus lowest quartile of daily intake of total soybean products, with adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.392, 95% CI 0.194-0.793, p for trend 0.001. Similar decreases in COPD risk were associated with frequent and higher intake of soy foods such as tofu and bean sprouts, whereas respiratory symptoms were inversely associated with high consumption of soy foods, especially for breathlessness (OR 0.989, 95% CI 0.982-0.996).
Conclusion: Increasing soy consumption was associated with a decreased risk of COPD and breathlessness.