Did you know that women develop asthma at an alarming rate as they get older? It's true. Fortunately, there's an easy way to stop it from happening. But you probably won't hear about it from your alternative doctor. That's because the solution is a supplement that many alternative doctors have bashed for years.

Of course, not all women develop asthma as they get older. So what's causing the high rate? The answer is hormones. Researchers have discovered a clear association between lower estrogen levels and asthma. They found that as estrogen levels go down, asthma-causing chemicals go up. They've also found that lean women are the most at risk.

So how can you prevent it? A recent study looked at soy isoflavones and asthma. Genistein and daidzein are the main soy isoflavones. These compounds are phytoestrogens. Than means plant chemicals with mild estrogen properties. The researchers found that the phytoestrogens reduced asthma symptoms and inflammation.

In the study, the researchers gave participants a soy supplement (100 mg). It contained 29 mg of genistein and 28 mg of daidzein. Then they measured chemicals made by white blood cells that provoke asthma. These dropped by a significant 33%. This helps explain previous research showing that isoflavones reduce asthma severity.

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But why will this help aging women who get asthma? With menopause, estrogen falls. Since your fat cells also make estrogen, lean women will have less. (That explains why lean women have less estrogen-related cancers). We also know that estrogen reduces inflammation in bone that accelerates osteoporosis. So you can see that estrogen activity is an important modulator of inflammation.

Isoflavones from soy give you a number of health benefits. These include sparing you from heart disease and osteoporosis. They have a weak estrogen-like activity. So, they can reduce uncomfortable menopausal symptoms without the cancer-promoting risks.

I've been following the soy controversy for years. Many of my alternative colleagues have bashed soy. I've been reluctant to jump on that bandwagon. I've seen more on the positive side for moderate soy and soy supplement use than negative.

Research finds that isoflavones prevent cancer. They slow down the aging process in peri-menopausal women. They are a popular alternative to HRT. And they help control menopause symptoms.

You do have to balance estrogen use. It's certainly needed to reduce aging and inflammation. But too much can lead to cancer. Phytoestrogens seem to give you the benefits of natural estrogen without the harmful risks of the parent hormone. That's another reason I choose the modulating effects of plant chemicals before I resort to heavier treatment.

If you have late onset asthma, you might benefit from phytoestrogens. They are available at most health food stores and on the Internet.

Ref: J Allergy Clin Immunol. Published online October 26, 2007; Clinical & Experimental Allergy, January 2008, Volume 38, Issue 1.

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