The purpose of this study is to determine whether dietary phytoestrogens are an effective
alternative to postmenopausal exogenous estrogen replacement therapy in preventing bone
Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women is one of the most important public health challenges
of our time. With millions of women affected and billions of dollars being spent for its
complications, we need to develop effective approaches to this disease. Postmenopausal
women are at particular risk because the loss of estrogen associated with the menopause
leads to bone loss of much greater magnitude than one would expect on the basis of age
alone. Estrogen replacement therapy, a logical and effective therapeutic approach, has been
associated with serious concerns about adverse events and, thus, limited use. The recent
development of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) may help if they continue to
show promise. Interest in natural sources of estrogenic substances to prevent
postmenopausal bone loss is an expected outgrowth of the general interest in alternative
medicinals for a wide variety of human disorders. Concerns about the potential for adverse
consequences of the conventional use of estrogen replacement therapy, and limited knowledge
about long term use of SERMS- add support to this quest. No systematic investigation of the
role of dietary phytoestrogens on bone mass and skeletal dynamics has yet been conducted.
With the dramatic increase in interest in these sources of estrogenic activity, it is
important for us to determine whether these agents are efficacious. Otherwise, this field
will be plagued for years to come by incomplete, anecdotal and scientifically poorly
documented actions of these agents on bone metabolism. It is our expectation that this
study will begin to provide the documentary information that the field so clearly needs.
The rationale for exploring the potential for phytoestrogens in the maintenance of skeletal
health in postmenopausal women is clear and compelling.
Women will be randomly assigned to one of three healthy eating plans and, over the course of
the year-long study, will learn to choose and cook foods to help optimize health as they go
through menopause and beyond.
- Weight within 90% to 120% of ideal body weight
- 12 or more months since last menstrual period
- New York Metro Area resident
- History of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease