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The CHOICE Study PDF Print
Written by Dr. Fredi Kronenberg, Columbia University   
Monday, 05 March 2007 08:40

Comparing Healthy Options in Cooking and Eating

Food and Healthy Aging:

We all hear that our health is affected by what we eat, leading many of us to search for the right foods to stay healthy. Information in the news, magazines, websites and books is often conflicting and seems ever changing. Thus, it can be difficult to determine what is most appropriate for one’s own needs. To better understand the health effects of certain food combinations, we are conducting a study of the health effects of whole foods and a more plant-based diet on women during menopause. This study has assumed even greater significance in the years since the large government-funded Women’s Health Initiative study found that estrogen replacement therapy did not have the benefits of protecting against heart disease that women and their doctors previously believed. And further, there were health risks when women took hormones for long periods of time. So women, even more than previously, are searching for natural and healthy ways to optimize their health as they age.

There has been much in the media about “phytoestrogens” – substances in plants that behave like estrogen when they are eaten - and how they will help with everything from hot flashes, to mood swings, heart health and osteoporosis. Foods containing such substances include soy and other beans, grains, nuts and fruit. But is there any scientific evidence to support these claims? Can such foods substitute for hormone therapy at menopause, and can they relieve symptoms or reduce longer term changes? There is little scientific evidence in support of these claims, primarily since there have been few studies involving menopausal women. We are seeking such evidence by studying the way in which diets with differing amounts of phytoestrogens impact healthy aging.

The CHOICE study investigates the effects of diets with differing levels of phytoestrogens (including soy, flax and other grains and beans), on estrogen metabolism and risk for breast cancer, cardiovascular function, and bone health. Effects of these diets on estrogen level, function of blood vessels, bone density and bone metabolism are compared.

State of the Research:

We received funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the study. The study is complete; the analysis is poised to begin. However, additional funds* are needed for us to be able to complete this important work. Women are in a quandary and want answers. Many seek a healthful lifestyle and ways to be proactive for their health.

We have an opportunity to make a significant contribution toward improving health and providing answers about alternatives to hormone therapy.

*Contact Dr. Fredi Kronenberg, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for further information. All contributions are tax deductible.

Dr. Fredi Kronenberg is an associate professor of clinical physiology at Columbia University's College of Physicians & Surgeons and director of the Rosenthal Center.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 20:47

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