- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

DALLAS (AP) — Veggie burgers and tofu might not be so great at warding off heart disease after all.

An American Heart Association committee reviewed a decade of studies on soy’s benefits and came up with results that are casting doubt on the health claim that soy-based foods and supplements significantly lower cholesterol.

The findings could lead the Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate rules that allow companies to tout a cholesterol-lowering benefit on the labels of soy-based food.

The panel also found that neither soy nor the soy component isoflavone reduced symptoms of menopause, such as “hot flashes,” and that isoflavones don’t help prevent breast, uterine or prostate cancer. Results were mixed on whether soy prevented postmenopausal bone loss.

Based on the findings, the committee said it would not recommend using isoflavone supplements in food or pills. It concluded that soy-containing foods and supplements did not significantly lower cholesterol, and the committee said so in a statement recently published in the journal Circulation.

Nutrition specialists say soy-based foods still are good because they often are eaten in place of less healthy fare such as burgers and hot dogs. But they don’t have as much direct benefit as had been hoped with regard to cholesterol, one of the top risk factors for heart disease.

“We don’t want to lull people into a false sense of security that by eating soy they can solve the problem [with cholesterol],” said Dr. Michael Crawford, chief of clinical cardiology at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center.

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