PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) develops when the female body makes higher than normal amounts of testosterone and androgens, sex hormones associated with male traits. PCOS is linked to an increased risk of infertility, diabetes, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and heart disease.
For the current study, researchers from Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran randomly assigned 70 women, average age 26 to 28, with PCOS to take either a daily soy supplement pill or a placebo for 12 weeks.
Half of the women were assigned to take a daily 50-milligram soy isoflavone supplement, roughly the equivalent of drinking about two 8-ounce glasses (about 500 milliliters) of soymilk. (Soy isoflavones are naturally occurring plant-based estrogens found in soybeans.)
They did lab tests before and after the experiment to look for risk factors for heart disease and diabetes such as high levels of blood fats and “bad” LDL cholesterol and impaired functioning of the hormone insulin.
At the end of the experiment, women who took the soy supplements had better insulin function and lower levels of LDL cholesterol and fats in the blood than their peers who took placebo pills.
While more research is needed in a larger, more diverse group of women, the results of this study suggest it’s possible soy supplements may lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease as well as some other health problems associated with PCOS like high cholesterol and hardening of the arteries.
In addition to its small size, another limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t test how changing the amount of soy taken each day might influence the outcomes on risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.