Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

April 7, 2015

Review of research on use by menopausal women of nutritional supplement equol appears in US women's health publication

  • Authored by top professionals in women's health (in menopause, obstetrics and gynecology), a review of research into the safety and efficacy of nutritional ingredient equol has appeared in US academic publication Journal of Women's Health. Made from soy germ, Equol has been researched and developed by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. to support women's health.
  • The published data was mainly related to hot flashes, shoulder stiffness, metabolic syndrome, bone density, wrinkles and safety of equol supplements. The research paves the way for new options for women troubled by menopause-related symptoms.
  • Around 70% of 33 million*1 US women suffering menopausal symptoms are looking for solutions*2, and 92% of these (up to 21 million)*1 express a desire for non-pharmaceutical options.

Tokyo, Japan - Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Tokyo, CEO and President: Tatsuo Higuchi) has announced the publication of a review written by experts in the fields of menopause, obstetrics and gynecology based on data from research into equol (S-equol: SE5-OH), a healthy compound derived from soybeans, conducted by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Saga Nutraceuticals Research Institute. The article appeared in the US Journal of Women's Health, and is the first time that such a review has been published in an overseas academic journal.

Coauthor of the review, Wulf H. Utian, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., Founder of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and Director Emeritus of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals of Cleveland, writes "Current data suggest that women may have benefits with S-equol for menopausal vasomotor symptoms and possibly additional benefits, such as skin health. Given the studies supporting safety of S-equol, physicians and health care professionals may consider the use of S-equol as a future first round option for menopause symptoms, especially for women not wanting to use pharmaceuticals."

Michelle Jones, M.D., FAAFP, a family practice physician at Wilmington Health Associates, North Carolina, wrote "Many women are confused about the controversies surrounding estrogen replacement therapies for menopause. S-equol offers women an alternative for symptom relief without the potential harmful effects of estrogen."

Based on its corporate philosophy of 'Otsuka - people creating new products for better health worldwide,' Otsuka Pharmaceutical is dedicated to the development of innovative products that contribute to the health of people around the world.

About Equol

Equol is a metabolite produced in the intestine via diadzein, a soy isoflavone. Produced in the intestine after consuming soy, equol has the ability to bind to the same estrogen receptors as naturally occurring estrogen. It could therefore be expected that consumption of soybeans or soy isoflavones would contribute to maintaining or improving women's health. However, it has been suggested that only about 50% of women who consume soy regularly, and about 30% of American European women have the ability to produce equol after eating soy*3 .

Otsuka Pharmaceutical's equol research and development

As part of the company's research into soy, Otsuka Pharmaceutical has long focused on the relationship between equol and the physical and psychological changes in menopausal women. Since 1996, Saga Nutraceuticals Research Institute has been conducting research into equol, and in 2002 succeeded in isolating the equol lactic acid bacteria strain Lactococcus 20-92, which produces equol. This lactic acid bacteria is used to ferment soy germ to produce equol (the naturally occurring form of S-equol), and the company's pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals*4 business divisions have collaborated to conduct multiple research activities in both Japan and the US. To date, a range of research results have been reported, and Otsuka continues to lead the world in research into the safety and efficacy of equol. Full-time specialist staff were placed across the country after a nutritional product containing equol went on sale in 2014. Experts including physicians and health care professionals are cooperating to communicate the importance of self-care to a generation of women who have begun to experience physical and psychological changes. This is being achieved by providing information through seminars and other activities throughout Japan with the aim of promoting women's health and improving their quality of life.

  1. 1The 2011 Gallup Study of Menopause Management
  2. 2IPSOS-ASI study of women 45-59, 2009.
  3. 3Journal of the Japan Society for Menopause and Women's Health, 20: 313-332, 2012
  4. 4Nutraceuticals (nutrition + pharmaceuticals):Products developed based on scientific evidence that contribute to promoting everyday health