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D. Lee Alekel, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-3552
Oksana Matvienko or Darcy Johannsen, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-5088
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- Scientists at Iowa State University are recruiting postmenopausal women for a three-year clinical trial to examine the effectiveness of isoflavones in preventing bone loss associated with menopause. Isoflavones are estrogen-like compounds derived from soybeans.

The researchers are looking for healthy, postmenopausal women who are younger than 65 and non-smokers. They cannot be taking hormones, bone-building or cholesterol-lowering medications. In addition, participants must be willing to discontinue their own supplements and take calcium and vitamin D supplements provided by the study. Women who have used hormone therapy during the past year, have osteoporosis or have taken anti-osteoporotic medications are not eligible for the study.

Participants must also agree to avoid soy foods and to be randomly assigned to one of three groups for three years. The first group will take a placebo daily, the second will take a lower-dose soy isoflavone tablet daily and the third group will take a higher-dose soy isoflavone tablet daily.

All women who are determined eligible will make six scheduled visits during the three-year study to the research clinic at Iowa State. At each visit, participants will complete medical, nutrition and physical activity questionnaires. They also will be measured for height, weight, body composition, blood pressure and bone density.

Women interested in participating in the study will receive a free bone scan (with results and explanation) to determine if they meet the eligibility criteria. Women who complete the study will receive information on personal bone mineral density, physical activity and dietary intake at the conclusion of the three years. In addition, participants will be paid for their visits to the ISU campus.

According to Iowa State associate professor of nutrition D. Lee Alekel, who is leading the research, during the first five years after menopause, women may lose between 15 and 25 percent of their bone mass, greatly increasing their risk of osteoporosis.

"Previous research indicates that soybeans, with their naturally occurring, estrogen-like compounds, may help prevent osteoporosis," Alekel said. "We're hopeful that this study will help determine the effectiveness of two doses of soy isoflavones and eventually will lead to the development of a safe and practical alternative for preventing bone loss in early postmenopausal women."

The study is being conducted by researchers from Iowa State in conjunction with researchers from the University of California, Davis. It is funded by The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a branch of The National Institutes of Health.

Women interested in participating in the study should contact the Iowa State research team at (515) 294-8673, or e-mail


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