Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Article
  • Published:


Soy intake and vasomotor menopausal symptoms among midlife women: a pooled analysis of five studies from the InterLACE consortium



Phytoestrogen rich-foods such as soy may be associated with less frequent/severe vasomotor menopausal symptoms (VMS), although evidence is limited. We thus investigated the associations between the consumption of soy products and soy milk and the frequency/severity of VMS.


We pooled data from 19,351 middle-aged women from five observational studies in Australia, UK, USA, and Japan that contribute to the International Collaboration for a Life course Approach to reproductive health and Chronic disease Events (InterLACE). Information on soy consumption, VMS and covariates were collected by self-report. We included 11,006 women who had complete data on soy consumption, VMS and covariates at baseline for the cross-sectional analysis. For the prospective analysis, 4522 women who were free of VMS at baseline and had complete data on VMS at follow-up were considered. Multinomial logistic regression and binary logistic regression models were used.


No statistically significant evidence of an association was found between soy products (relative risk ratio (RRR): 0.92, 95% CI: 0.76–1.11) or soy milk (RRR: 1.24, 95% CI: 0.93–1.65) and the likelihood of reporting frequent or severe VMS cross-sectionally. Prospective results indicated that frequent consumption of soy products (odds ratio (OR): 0.63, 95% CI: 0.45–0.89) but not soy milk (OR: 1.11, 95% CI: 0.85–1.45) was associated with lower likelihood of reporting subsequent VMS, after adjustment for socio-demographic and reproductive factors.


These are the first ever findings from pooled observational data of association between consumption of soy products and VMS.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Lethaby A, Marjoribanks J, Kronenberg F, Roberts H, Eden J, Brown J. Phytoestrogens for menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013:Cd001395.

  2. Gold EB, Colvin A, Avis N, Bromberger J, Greendale GA, Powell L, et al. Longitudinal analysis of the association between vasomotor symptoms and race/ethnicity across the menopausal transition: study of women’s health across the nation. Am J Public Health. 2006;96:1226–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Rapkin AJ. Vasomotor symptoms in menopause: physiologic condition and central nervous system approaches to treatment. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;196:97–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Pines A. Vasomotor symptoms and cardiovascular disease risk. Climacteric. 2011;14:535–6.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Biglia N, Cagnacci A, Gambacciani M, Lello S, Maffei S, Nappi RE. Vasomotor symptoms in menopause: a biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and other chronic diseases? Climacteric. 2017;20:306–12.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Levis S, Griebeler ML. The role of soy foods in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. J Nutr. 2010;140:2318s–2321s.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Baber R. Phytoestrogens and post reproductive health. Maturitas. 2010;66:344–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Sievert LL, Morrison L, Brown DE, Reza AM. Vasomotor symptoms among Japanese-American and European-American women living in Hilo, Hawaii. Menopause. 2007;14:261–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Nagata C, Takatsuka N, Kawakami N, Shimizu H. Soy product intake and hot flashes in Japanese women: results from a community-based prospective study. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;153:790–3.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Carmignani LO, Pedro AO, Costa-Paiva LH, Pinto-Neto AM. The effect of dietary soy supplementation compared to estrogen and placebo on menopausal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Maturitas. 2010;67:262–9.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Khaodhiar L, Ricciotti HA, Li L, Pan W, Schickel M, Zhou J, et al. Daidzein-rich isoflavone aglycones are potentially effective in reducing hot flashes in menopausal women. Menopause. 2008;15:125–32.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Ye YB, Wang ZL, Zhuo SY, Lu W, Liao HF, Verbruggen M, et al. Soy germ isoflavones improve menopausal symptoms but have no effect on blood lipids in early postmenopausal Chinese women: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Menopause. 2012;19:791–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Mishra GD, Chung HF, Pandeya N, Dobson AJ, Jones L, Avis NE, et al. The InterLACE study: design, data harmonization and characteristics across 20 studies on women’s health. Maturitas. 2016;92:176–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Mishra GD, Anderson D, Schoenaker DA, Adami HO, Avis NE, Brown D, et al. InterLACE: A New International Collaboration for a Life Course Approach to Women’s Reproductive Health and Chronic Disease Events. Maturitas. 2013;74:235–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Lee C, Dobson AJ, Brown WJ, Bryson L, Byles J, Warner-Smith P, et al. Cohort Profile: the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Int J Epidemiol. 2005;34:987–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Marmot M, Brunner E. Cohort Profile: the Whitehall II study. Int J Epidemiol. 2005;34:251–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Mitchell ES, Woods NF. Cognitive symptoms during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause. Climacteric. 2011;14:252–61.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Anderson D, Yoshizawa T, Gollschewski S, Atogami F, Courtney M. Menopause in Australia and Japan: effects of country of residence on menopausal status and menopausal symptoms. Climacteric. 2004;7:165–74.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Nutrient Data L. USDA database for the isoflavone content of selected foods, release 2.0. Beltsville, Md: U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2008.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Thompson LU, Boucher BA, Liu Z, Cotterchio M, Kreiger N. Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestan. Nutr Cancer. 2006;54:184–201.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Stuenkel CA, Davis SR, Gompel A, Lumsden MA, Murad MH, Pinkerton JV, et al. Treatment of symptoms of the menopause: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100:3975–4011.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Welty FK, Lee KS, Lew NS, Nasca M, Zhou JR. The association between soy nut consumption and decreased menopausal symptoms. J Women’s Health. 2007;16:361–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Cheng G, Wilczek B, Warner M, Gustafsson JA, Landgren BM. Isoflavone treatment for acute menopausal symptoms. Menopause. 2007;14:468–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Nahas EA, Nahas-Neto J, Orsatti FL, Carvalho EP, Oliveira ML, Dias R. Efficacy and safety of a soy isoflavone extract in postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study. Maturitas. 2007;58:249–58.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Burke GL, Legault C, Anthony M, Bland DR, Morgan TM, Naughton MJ, et al. Soy protein and isoflavone effects on vasomotor symptoms in peri- and postmenopausal women: the Soy Estrogen Alternative Study. Menopause. 2003;10:147–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Penotti M, Fabio E, Modena AB, Rinaldi M, Omodei U, Viganó P. Effect of soy-derived isoflavones on hot flushes, endometrial thickness, and the pulsatility index of the uterine and cerebral arteries. Fertil Steril. 2003;79:1112–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Williamson-Hughes PS, Flickinger BD, Messina MJ, Empie MW. Isoflavone supplements containing predominantly genistein reduce hot flash symptoms: a critical review of published studies. Menopause. 2006;13:831–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Sturdee DW. The menopausal hot flush—anything new? Maturitas. 2008;60:42–49.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Pachman DR, Jones JM, Loprinzi CL. Management of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms: current treatment options, challenges and future directions. Int J Women’s Health. 2010;2:123–35.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Moreira AC, Silva AM, Santos MS, Sardão VA. Phytoestrogens as alternative hormone replacement therapy in menopause: what is real, what is unknown. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014;143:61–71.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. Rietjens I, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174:1263–80.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Kuiper GG, Lemmen JG, Carlsson B, Corton JC, Safe SH, van der Saag PT, et al. Interaction of estrogenic chemicals and phytoestrogens with estrogen receptor beta. Endocrinology. 1998;139:4252–63.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  33. Morrow PKH, Mattair DN, Hortobagyi GN. Hot flashes: a review of pathophysiology and treatment modalities. Oncologist. 2011;16:1658–64.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Setchell KDR, Cole SJ. Variations in isoflavone levels in soy foods and soy protein isolates and issues related to isoflavone databases and food labeling. J Agric Food Chem. 2003;51:4146–55.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. Luoto R. Hot flushes and quality of life during menopause. BMC Women’s Health. 2009;9:13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Monteleone P, Mascagni G, Giannini A, Genazzani AR, Simoncini T. Symptoms of menopause—global prevalence, physiology and implications. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018;14:199–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Woods NF, Mitchell ES. Symptoms during the perimenopause: prevalence, severity, trajectory, and significance in women’s lives. Am J Med. 2005;118(Suppl 12B):14–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The data on which this research are based were drawn from five observational studies. The research included data from the ALSWH, the University of Newcastle, Australia, and the University of Queensland, Australia. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health for funding and to the women who provided the survey data. SMWHS was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Nursing Research. HOW and JMWHS (also called Australian and Japanese Midlife Women’s Health Study) were supported by the Queensland University of Technology Early Career Research Grant and the JSPS Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research. The Whitehall II study is supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (K013351), British Heart Foundation (BHF RG/16/11/32334) and US National Institutes on Aging (R01AG013196 and R01AG034454). All study teams would like to thank the participants for volunteering their time to be involved in the respective studies. The findings and views in this paper are not those from the original studies or their respective funding agencies.


InterLACE project is funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council project grant (APP1027196). GDM is supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellowship (APP1121844). YD is in receipt of a scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, UK. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



The authors’ responsibilities were as follows—GDM: conceived the study; YD, HFC and GDM: designed the research and had primary responsibility for the final content; JEC, DCG, AJD, ESM, NFW, EJB, TY and DA: contributed to the data; YD: performed the statistical analysis and wrote the manuscript; HFC, DCG, JEC, AJD and GDM: provided statistical input, helped with interpretation of the results and reviewed the manuscript for important intellectual content; and all authors: read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yashvee Dunneram.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

JEC is the director of a university spin out company, Dietary Assessment Ltd. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Sources of support: Commonwealth Scholarship, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council project grant (APP1027196 & APP1121844)

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dunneram, Y., Chung, HF., Cade, J.E. et al. Soy intake and vasomotor menopausal symptoms among midlife women: a pooled analysis of five studies from the InterLACE consortium. Eur J Clin Nutr 73, 1501–1511 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links