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Soy And Acne

Q: I have two questions.  Can soy supplements or phytoestrogens improve acne?  Can women taking birth control pills also take soy supplements or phytoestrogens?

Thank You.  --C.Y.

Dr. Donnica:
I am not aware of any studies showing that phytoestrogens or soy supplements help improve acne. There are several studies showing that certain birth control pills help improve acne. In fact, Ortho Tricyclen has a specific FDA approval for it.  A recent presentation at the American Academy of Dermatologists Meeting (Washington DC 5/01) showed research that ultra low-dose birth control pills (e.g. containing only 20 micrograms of estrogen) can have an acne benefit as well.

You also asked if women on birth control pills can supplement with phytoestrogens and soy. The question is why would you want to?  Soy is an excellent source of dietary protein, so I do encourage women to eat soy-based products in lieu of red meat, for example.  Soy has also been shown to be able to reduce mildly elevated cholesterol in doses of 6.5 grams four times per day.  If you have mildly elevated cholesterol, this may be a good option for you.  Soy contains certain isoflavones but this does not mean that soy and phytoestrogens are interchangeable.  Many women like drinking soy milk or taking phytoestrogen products if they are perimenopausal or menopausal and having symptoms.  If you are on birth control pills, you should not be experiencing these symptoms as birth control pills can treat these symptoms more effectively.  If you are having symptoms that you think are related to perimenopause or menopause despite taking birth control pills, please discuss this with your doctor.  

Wtih best regards,
Donnica Moore, MD

Created: 5/25/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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