Quantitative efficacy of soy isoflavones on menopausal hot flashes

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 Apr;79(4):593-604. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12533.


Aim: This study aimed to quantitate the efficacy of soy isoflavones in the treatment of menopausal hot flashes.

Methods: Model based meta-analysis (MBMA) was used to quantitate the efficacy of soy isoflavones. We conducted a systemic literature search to build a time-effect model for placebo and soy isoflavones in treating menopausal hot flashes. Studies were identified, subjected to inclusion and exclusion criteria, and reviewed.

Results: From 55 articles, 16 studies of soy isoflavones met the inclusion criteria, and contained 65 and 66 mean effect values in placebo and soy isoflavone groups, respectively, from about 1710 subjects. Interestingly, the developed model was found to describe adequately the time course of hot flashes reduction after administration of placebo and soy isoflavones. Using this model, we found that the maximal percentage change of hot flashes reduction by soy isoflavones was 25.2% after elimination of the placebo effect, accounting for 57% of the maximum effects of estradiol (Emax-estradiol = 44.9%). However, a time interval of 13.4 weeks was needed for soy isoflavones to achieve half of its maximal effects, much longer than estradiol, which only required 3.09 weeks. These results suggest that treatment intervals of 12 weeks are too short for soy isoflavones, which require at least 48 weeks to achieve 80% of their maximum effects.

Conclusions: Soy isoflavones show slight and slow effects in attenuating menopausal hot flashes compared with estradiol.

Keywords: estradiol; hot flashes; menopause; model based meta analysis; soy isoflavones.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Glycine max / chemistry*
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / administration & dosage
  • Isoflavones / isolation & purification
  • Isoflavones / therapeutic use*
  • Menopause*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Isoflavones