Habitual consumption of soy protein and isoflavones and risk of metabolic syndrome in adults ≥ 40 years old: a prospective analysis of the Korean Multi-Rural Communities Cohort Study (MRCohort)

  • Hye Won Woo
  • Mi Kyung KimEmail author
  • Young-Hoon Lee
  • Dong Hoon Shin
  • Min-Ho Shin
  • Bo Youl Choi
Original Contribution



Although considerable attention has been paid to the potential benefits of soy protein and isoflavones for preventing metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its components, findings linking habitual consumption of these factors to MetS are limited. This study aimed to evaluate the association of MetS incidence with habitual intake of soy protein/isoflavones among Korean men and women aged ≥ 40 years old who did not have MetS at baseline (n = 5509; 2204 men and 3305 women).


Dietary intake of soy protein/isoflavones at baseline and average consumption during follow-up were used.


A significant inverse association between dietary intake and incidence of MetS was found in women (incidence rate ratios, IRR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.46–0.78, P for trend = 0.0094 for the highest quintile of average soy protein intake compared with the lowest quintile; IRR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.44–0.74, P for trend = 0.0048 for the highest quintile of average isoflavones intake compared with the lowest quintile). A tendency towards an inverse association was also found in men, although it was not significant for the highest quintile (IRR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.58–1.11, P for trend = 0.9759, comparing the lowest to the highest quintile of average soy protein intake; IRR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.53–1.01, P for trend = 0.8956, comparing the lowest to the highest quintile of average isoflavones intake). In terms of individual abnormalities, a significant inverse association was found between soy protein and isoflavones and the incidence of low–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in both men and women. Abdominal obesity and elevated blood pressure were inversely related to soy protein/isoflavones only in women, and an inverse association of elevated triglyceride appeared only in men.


Our findings suggest that habitual intake of soy protein and isoflavones is inversely associated with the risk of MetS and its components. There is likely to be a reverse J-shaped association of average intake with MetS.


Soy protein Isoflavones Metabolic syndrome Prospective Korea 



Blood pressure


Body mass index


Cardiovascular disease


Confidence interval


Coronary heart disease


Diet quality index-international


Fasting blood glucose


Food-frequency questionnaire


General linear model


High-density lipoprotein cholesterol


Incidence rate ratio


Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study


Multi-rural Communities Cohort




Standard deviation


Standard error




Waist circumference



This work was supported by a Research Program funded by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004-E71004-00, 2005-E71011-00, 2006-E71009-00, 2007-E71002-00, 2008-E71004-00, 2009-E71006-00, 2010-E71003-00, 2011-E71002-00, 2012-E71007-00, 2013-E71008-00) and by a National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning), (no. 2016R1A2B2011352).

Author contributions

HWW contributed to the data analysis and wrote the manuscript. YHL, DHS, MHS, and BYC were involved in data collection and management. MKK designed the study and supervised all the aspects of its implementation. All the authors helped to conceptualize the study, interpret the findings, and review drafts of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (Institutional Review Board of Hanyang University, Chonnam University, and Keimyung University) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1964, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all subjects for being included in the study.

Supplementary material

394_2018_1833_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
Supplemental Table 1. Age-adjusted consumption of food groups according to the quintiles (Q) of average soy protein and isoflavones consumption. Supplemental Table 2. Multivariable-adjusted IRRs and 95% CIs of MetS according to the quintiles of average spy protein/isoflavones consumption by follow-up frequency. Supplemental Table 3. Multivariable-adjusted IRRs and 95% CIs of MetS according to two follow-up assignment methods (DOCX 40 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Preventive Medicine, College of MedicineHanyang UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Institute for Health and SocietyHanyang UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Preventive Medicine and Institute of Wonkwang Medical ScienceWonkwang University School of MedicineIksanSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Preventive MedicineKeimyung University Dongsan Medical CenterDaeguSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of Preventive MedicineChonnam National University Medical SchoolGwangjuSouth Korea

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