Soy product intake and risk of incident disabling dementia: the JPHC Disabling Dementia Study

Eur J Nutr. 2022 Dec;61(8):4045-4057. doi: 10.1007/s00394-022-02937-5. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Purpose: We evaluated the association between total soy, soy product (natto, miso and tofu) and isoflavone intake and incident disabling dementia in a Japanese population.

Methods: We conducted a population-based prospective study in 18,991 men and 22,456 women. Intake of soy products and isoflavone was calculated using a validated food frequency questionnaire when participants were 45-74 years old (1995 and 1998). Incident disabling dementia was defined by the daily living disability status related to dementia in the long-term care insurance program of Japan from 2006 to 2016. Multivariate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of disabling dementia were calculated by quintiles of total soy, individual soy product and isoflavone intake, using Cox proportional hazard regression models.

Results: Total soy product intake was not associated with disabling dementia risk in both men and women. By individual soy products, natto intake was marginally inversely associated with disabling dementia in women (trend P = 0.050). When we stratified by age, this inverse association was clearer in women aged under 60 years (multivariate HR for the highest versus lowest quintile was 0.78, 95% CI 0.59-1.04, trend P = 0.020 for those aged under 60 years and 0.90, 95% CI 0.77-1.05, trend P = 0.23 for those aged 60 years and older, respectively). Any soy product or isoflavone intake was not associated with disabling dementia risk in men.

Conclusions: Although total soy product intake was not associated with disabling dementia risk, natto intake may contribute to reducing the risk of disabling dementia in women, especially in those aged under 60 years.

Keywords: Cohort study; Disabling dementia; Fermented soy; Japan; Soy products.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Soy Foods*
  • Soybeans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Isoflavones