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Int J Womens Health. 2014 Apr 5;6:377-84. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S57137. eCollection 2014.

Soy isoflavone intake and the likelihood of ever becoming a mother: the Adventist Health Study-2.

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1
Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway.
2
Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Population Medicine, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

As little is known about the possible relationship between the intake of phytoestrogens and female fertility, we investigated the relationship between soy isoflavone intake and the risk of nulliparity and nulligravidity.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional study of 11,688 North American Adventist women aged 30-50 years old with data regarding childbearing. These women were, as a group, characterized by a high proportion (54%) of vegetarians and a healthy lifestyle with a very low prevalence of smoking and alcohol use.

RESULTS:

The mean isoflavone intake (17.9 mg per day) was very high compared to other Western populations. Only 6% of the women indicated no intake of isoflavones. We found, after adjustment for age, marital status, and educational level, an inverse relationship (P=0.05) between isoflavone intake and the likelihood of ever having become a mother. In women with high (≥40 mg/day) isoflavone intake (12% of this group of women), the adjusted lifetime probability of giving birth to a live child was reduced by approximately 3% (95% CI: 0, 7) compared to women with low (<10 mg/day) intake. No relationships were found between the isoflavone intake and parity or age at first delivery in parous women. A similar inverse relationship (P=0.03) was found between the isoflavone intake and the risk of nulligravidity with a 13% (95% CI: 2, 26) higher risk of never have been pregnant in women with high (≥40 mg/day) isoflavone intake. These relationships were found mainly in women who reported problems becoming pregnant.

CONCLUSION:

The findings suggest that a high dietary isoflavone intake may have significant impact on fertility.

KEYWORDS:

Seventh-Day Adventist; fertility; isoflavones; phytoestrogens; soybeans

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