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Treatment preserves bone mass in mice; may help osteoporosis

A completely new type of therapy, using a unique class of synthetic compounds, may someday protect both men and women from the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. Researchers reported in the October 25 issue of Science that early studies of one of these compounds called estren successfully preserved and even restored bone mass in an animal model without the side effects associated with sex hormone therapies.

Isoflavone-enriched soy fails to increase bone density in young women

In a study sure to disappoint the soy industry, researchers say they’ve found that soy protein enriched with isoflavones appears to have no effect on bone mineral content and bone mineral density in young women. Isoflavones are chemicals made by plants, possibly to protect them against oxidation and organisms that might attack them, and soy beans are an especially good source. Isoflavones such as genistein are structurally similar to human estrogens and for that reason have some estrogen-like properties. Scientists and drug companies have become increasingly interested in them over the past few years since the naturally occurring chemicals seem to produce positive effects in bone without the negative impact, such as cancer, that estrogens are believed to have on reproductive organs in some women.