It's safe for women to take food and nutritional supplements after they reach the menopause, the European Food Safety Authority has concluded.
It says there is no evidence that supplements containing soy isoflavones accelerate the spread of breast cancer.
Worries about the supplements surfaced around six years ago when researchers said that soy protein supplements containing isoflavones-naturally-occurring substances in soy, kudzu root and red clover-could speed the spread of breast cancer in women going through the menopause. The supplements were often taken to help treat menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes.
But EFSA researchers say the supplements don't cause harm at doses that are contained in supplements. Their tests were limited to periods of three and 12 months when the supplements were being regularly taken, and so can't be sure that the risk of breast cancer spread doesn't exist if the supplements are taken for a longer period. They also don't know if women with a family history of breast cancer are at greater risk from the supplements, as no data was available for that assessment.
(Source: EFSA website. www.efsa.europe.eu)