Dietary intervention study to assess estrogenicity of dietary soy among postmenopausal women

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995 May;80(5):1685-90. doi: 10.1210/jcem.80.5.7745019.


We tested the hypothesis that postmenopausal women on a soy-supplemented diet show estrogenic responses. Ninety-seven postmenopausal women were randomized to either a group that was provided with soy foods for 4 weeks or a control group that was instructed to eat as usual. Changes in urinary isoflavone concentrations served as a measure of compliance and phytoestrogen dose. Changes in serum FSH, LH, sex hormone binding globulin, and vaginal cytology were measured to assess estrogenic response. The percentage of vaginal superficial cells (indicative of estrogenicity) increased for 19% of those eating the diet compared with 8% of controls (P = 0.06 when tested by ordinal logistic regression). FSH and LH did not decrease significantly with dietary supplementation as hypothesized, nor did sex hormone binding globulin increase. Little change occurred in endogenous estradiol concentration or body weight during the diet. Women with large increases in urinary isoflavone concentrations were not more likely to show estrogenic responses than were women with more modest increases. On the basis of published estimates of phytoestrogen potency, a 4-week, soy-supplemented diet was expected to have estrogenic effects on the liver and pituitary in postmenopausal women, but estrogenic effects were not seen. At most, there was a small estrogenic effect on vaginal cytology.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Estrogens / urine
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / urine
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Soybeans* / chemistry
  • Vagina / cytology


  • Estrogens
  • Isoflavones
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone