Soy' s Benifits Overrated. ???? Though it's long been touted as having a wealth of health benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease to easing the effects of menopause, research shows soy may not live up to its reputation as a super-food. An analysis of nearly 200 studies that was sponsored by the US government found that soy appears to provide little to no benefit in protecting against a range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and others. But the researchers did find a small effect when it comes to lowering levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol and to reducing hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Researchers looked at studies that were designed to investigate the effect of soy on cardiovascular outcomes, menopausal symptoms, endocrine function, cancer and tumour-related biomarkers, bone health, kidney health, neurocognitive function, and glucose metabolism. Studies included in the review all had at least five subjects aged 13 years or older, lasted a minimum of four weeks, and specified the amount of soy used. While most of the studies failed to prove the benefits of soy, a meta-analysis on more than 50 studies found a modest 3% decrease in the artery-clogging LDL cholesterol of subjects who used soy. But the median amount of soy consumed in those studies was equivalent to a pound a day of tofu or three soy protein shakes per day - more than the average person would likely eat. As for other markers of heart health, the soy appeared to have no impact on levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol, on markers of inflammation, or on participants' blood pressure levels. Researchers also reviewed 21 studies on the effect of soy on menopausal symptoms, but noted that inconsistencies across the studies, combined with the fact that women in both the control and treatment groups in all the trials had a decrease in hot flashes, made this effect difficult to analyze. Still, they noted that two thirds of the studies showed a decrease in hot flash frequency among soy users, while a third showed no benefit or worsening of symptoms. But while soy doesn't appear to offer much help, the researchers also noted that adverse health effects related to soy appeared to be "generally minor," including stomach problems, menstrual complaints, headaches, dizziness, and others. Overall, the researchers shied away from making broad conclusions about soy's effects, noting that the quality of more than half of the studies reviewed was "poor." "Given the large amount of heterogeneity and inadequate reporting, particularly relating to soy …, many questions remain as to whether specific soy products in adequate doses may be of benefit," the researchers wrote.