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Nutr Res. 2011 Oct;31(10):766-75. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2011.09.016.

Soy milk and dairy consumption is independently associated with ultrasound attenuation of the heel bone among postmenopausal women: the Adventist Health Study-2.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Soy milk has become a popular substitute for dairy milk with important health claims. We hypothesized that soy milk, based on its nutrient composition, is comparable to dairy products and, therefore, beneficial for bone health. To test this hypothesis, we examined the benefit of soy milk and dairy products intake on bone health using broadband ultrasound attenuation of the calcaneus. Postmenopausal white women (n = 337) who had completed a lifestyle and dietary questionnaire at enrollment into the Adventist Health Study-2 had their calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation measured 2 years later. The association between osteoporosis (defined as a T-score <-1.8) and some dietary factors (soy milk, dairy) and selected lifestyle factors was assessed using logistic regression. In a multivariable model adjusted for demographics, hormone use, and other dietary factors, osteoporosis was positively associated with age (odds ratio [OR] = 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.12) and inversely associated with body mass index (OR = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86-0.97) and current estrogen use (OR = 0.27; 95% CI, 0.13-0.56). Compared with women who did not drink soy milk, women drinking soy milk once a day or more had 56% lower odds of osteoporosis (OR = 0.44; 95% CI, 0.20-0.98; P(trend) = .04). Women whose dairy intake was once a day or more had a 62% reduction in the likelihood of having osteoporosis (OR = 0.38; 95% CI, 0.17-0.86; P(trend) = .02) compared with women whose dairy intake was less than twice a week. Among individual dairy products, only cheese showed an independent and significant protection (OR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.66; P(trend) = .004) for women eating cheese more than once per week vs those who ate cheese less than once a week. We concluded that osteoporosis is inversely associated with soy milk intake to a similar degree as dairy intake after accounting for age, body mass index, and estrogen use.

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