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Soy Studied to Prevent Weight Loss in Patients

CancerWise - February 2008

By Asma Siddiqi

Researchers will study whether the soy supplement Haelan 951 can help eliminate poor appetite and extreme weight loss in cancer patients to improve their health and quality of life.

Significance of the study

Ying Guo, M.D.Many cancer patients experience malnutrition, lack of appetite and cachexia (muscle wasting), which is the most common cause of death in end-stage cancer, says Ying Guo, M.D., an associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine and principal investigator on the study.

Patients with cachexia report loss of appetite, fatigue and undesired weight loss.

Goal of the study

“We are trying to determine if Haelan 951 can hinder the body’s inflammatory response that causes these symptoms," Guo says. "We also will look at changes in a patient’s symptoms, calorie intake, nutritional status and body composition.”


No specific studies have been conducted about the effects of Haelan on nutritional health, but general studies have shown that isoflavones can be helpful as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Isoflavones are estrogen-like substances that may help in lowering cholesterol and strengthening bones.

Study description

The study will recruit 32 patients who will be required to make five office visits, each taking about an hour. The visits will be scheduled two weeks apart, and the length of the study is 56 days.

On each visit, patients will be required to:

  • Perform two functional, timed tests
  • Complete three brief questionnaires
  • Undergo tests for body composition
  • Undergo blood tests

Blood test results will reveal the body’s absorption of the supplement and any changes that might indicate inflammation.

At home, patients will need to:

  • Take Haelan 951 orally twice a day
  • Record the amount taken
  • Record any side effects

Researchers will measure:

  • Patients’ tolerance of the soy product
  • The effect of Haelan 951

They will measure any weight loss, improvement in appetite, decrease in fatigue and increase in energy.


A participant must:

  • Have cancer
  • Have poor appetite
  • Have normal mental function
  • Be able to take the supplement orally
  • Have experienced significant weight loss

For this study, significant weight loss is defined as losing more than 5% of a person's original weight in the previous six months.

A participant must not:

  • Be allergic to soy
  • Be pregnant
  • Weigh less than 80 pounds
  • Be intolerant of Haelan at the initial taste test
  • Have breast cancer
  • Have fluid in the abdominal cavity

Also, participants cannot:

  • Receive supplementary feedings
  • Have mechanical obstruction of the digestive tract
  • Be constantly vomiting
  • Be young women who don't practice birth control

For more information or to enroll in the study, contact research nurse Laura Longmire at 713-745-8196 or by e-mail at

M. D. Anderson resources:

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center