Three million dollars from the National Institutes of Health will fund a long study to see if soybeans protect human bones. Iowa State University Doctor Lee Alekel says extracts from the versatile bean have powerful properties that mimic human body chemicals.An isoflavone acts like estrogen, she says. Middle-aged women volunteers will take the extract for three years to see if it helps prevent the bone loss that normally follows menopause. Alekel says there’s already strong evidence that the substance does help bones remain strong, and says she has a good group to work with. Post-menopausal women are the best subjects for a study, she says. Three groups of women will take either a high dose of the extract, a low dose, or a placebo that does nothing. She expects to see bone loss slowed in the women’s lumbar region of the spine, especially among those taking higher doses. Alekel adds that Iowa women make particularly good subjects because they’re well educated and will stick with a commitment to a long-term study like this, which could take three to five years.
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