A study published in Biomed Central’s open access journal Respiratory Research shows that consumption of a wide variety of soy products can be associated with a reduced risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory symptoms.

Fumi Hirayama, PhD, and Professor Andy Lee from Curtin University of Technology, Australia, and a team of respiratory physicians polled 300 patients with COPD from six Japanese hospitals and 340 age-matched control subjects from the same areas about their soy intake.

"Soy consumption was found to be positively correlated with lung function and inversely associated with the risk of COPD,” said Hirayama in a press release about the study. “It has been suggested that flavonoids from soy foods act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the lung, and can protect against tobacco carcinogens for smokers. However, further research is needed to understand the underlying biological mechanism".

According to the researchers, this is the first study to demonstrate the association between consumption of soy and a reduction in the risk of developing COPD. It has also been claimed that soy foods reduce cholesterol and can alleviate menopause symptoms.