The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Soy isoflavones in the elderly

     The benefits of isoflavone depend on converting soy foods and supplements to biologically active compounds such as equol, which occurs in the intestines and is altered by age-associated conditions.

    Researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison studied the effects of soy in older nondemented men and women.

    First, the details.

    • A group of elderly men and women (62 to 89 years old) ingested 100 mg/day soy isoflavones or matching placebo tablets for 6 months.
    • Neither the participants nor the researchers knew the treatment given — double-blind.

    And, the results.

    • Blood levels of genistein and daidzein (the major phytoestrogens in soy) increased significantly.
    • Blood levels of equol (an isoflavone converted from daidzein by bacteria in the intestines) didn’t.
    • While similar at the start, the groups differed over 6 months of treatment on 8 of 11 cognitive (reasoning) tests.
    • Those taking isoflavone significantly improved on tests of visual-spatial memory (the ability to mentally manipulate 2- and 3-dimensional figures) and construction, verbal fluency, and speeded dexterity.
    • But placebo-treated participants were faster in tests of executive function (carrying out, implementing, administering orders).
    • The groups had similar side-effects.

    The bottom line?
    In addition to being well tolerated, the authors concluded that the “data support the potential cognitive effects of soy isoflavones in older adults.”

    12/14/08 21:40 JR

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