Could soy lessen your asthma symptoms?

July 14, 2011 11:29:25 AM PDT
Can the food you eat affect how well you breathe? Doctors are taking a much closer look at the connection between asthma and soy.

Asthma is a common and growing problem and it takes a heavy price on sufferers. A price is both upkeep and suffering. But a new national study is looking at one common food nutrient which might help.

25 million Americans have asthma in one degree or another. The average asthma patient spends more than $3,000 a year in medical costs to control it.

Could a little trip to the supermarket or a simple supplement be a way around it? That's what experts and cooperating patients are trying to find out.

For Katrina Muska Duff, some days are bittersweet. She enjoys spending time outdoors working in her garden, but she knows that between the heat and the pollen, an asthma flare could be just a breath away.

"Hot summer days, like today, with the humidity, a lot of times when there's the air quality alerts, I do feel my asthma kick in a little bit," she said.

Katrina makes sure to keep her rescue inhaler nearby just in case.

But recently she started trying something else. Katrina's part of a new national study to see if adding more soy to her diet can help her breathe easier.

"Americans, in general, do not take a whole lot of soy. But the groups of folks who did, seemed to have better lung function. And that made us think, well, maybe, this is something that could improve their asthma as well," said Dr. John Mastronarde, Ohio State University Medical Center.

Mastronarde says Asia is one place where soy consumption is higher and asthma complications tend to be lower.

So around the country, patients in the study will take soy supplements to see if it can help them.

The NYC School of Medicine, the North Shore Long Island Health System and the New York Medical College in Valhalla are insitutiions in our area now recruiting patients.

"We have some very good drugs for asthma. And in a majority of patients they work pretty well. The problem is, when the first line medicines don't really work, then we're much more limited," Mastronarde said.

But if soy proves to be effective in helping to control symptoms, it could be a simple and Inexpensive option for patients like Katrina.

"I already take vitamins on a daily basis, so I thought maybe adding another supplement to my daily vitamin intake wouldn't be a big deal," she said.

Doctors say there is an ingredient in soy known as genistein (pronounced: jin-uh-steen) that is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that may help control asthma. The soy study will include asthma patients ages 12 and older, and will be conducted in about a dozen states. Results are expected in the next couple of years.

If you want informaiton on joining this study, please visit -