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J Nutr. 2009 Apr;139(4):796S-802S. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.104182. Epub 2009 Feb 18.

Report on the 8th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention and Treatment.

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  • 1Nutrition Matters, Port Townsend, WA 98368, USA.


The international soy symposium held in Tokyo, November 9-12, 2008, was the eighth in a series that began in 1994. This most recent meeting is noteworthy for several reasons. First, it was held in the country most identified with the foods that are the focus of the meeting. Soyfoods were first consumed in China more than a millennium ago, but it is the low incidence of breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, and hot flashes in Japan, despite the high socioeconomic status of this country, that helped fuel interest in the early 1990s in the possible chronic disease-preventive properties of soy and certain soybean constituents. Second, it was the first time an entire session was devoted to equol, a bacterially derived product of the soybean isoflavone daidzein, which is produced by only approximately 30% of Westerners and has been proposed to be an especially beneficial compound, i.e., the equol hypothesis. And third, there was greater emphasis during this meeting than at past ones on addressing some of the more hotly debated health effects linked with soy intake. The conference was attended by >250 scientists from 20 countries; there were 33 oral and 40 poster presentations during the 4-d event. The majority of presentations at the Tokyo symposium focused on isoflavones. In this article, the major findings presented at the symposium are highlighted, and commentary about those findings and related background is provided.

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