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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(4):960

to the editor: I enjoyed the excellent article by Dr. Ullom-Minnich on the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures.1 For practicing physicians, the preventive aspects of managing osteoporosis can have a significant impact on the lives of patients.
The article1 contained little mention, however, of the nutritional methods of preventing osteoporosis that specifically relate to soy proteins. Dr. Ullom-Minnich correctly identified women of Asian descent as being at higher risk for fracture secondary to osteoporosis but failed to clarify that these are westernized women now eating a western diet. Asian women residing in their home countries actually have a significantly lower risk of osteoporosis and subsequent fractures that seem to be related to large amounts of soy in their diets.2,3 A growing body of data show that the isoflavones found in soy protein produce a stabilizing effect on the bone matrix.46 Animal and human studies increasingly show that a diet rich in soy proteins has some of the positive effects of estrogen replacement therapy without the risky side effects.46 Further studies are ongoing and will no doubt continue to support the nutritional value of soy proteins for osteoporosis prevention.

editor's note: This letter was sent to the author of “Prevention of Osteoporosis and Fractures,” who declined to reply.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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