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Is Soy Bad For Breast Cancer Patients

Is There A Concern About Eating Soy Foods

Soy and Breast Cancer: Good or Bad?

Soy foods contain a natural plant compound called isoflavone. Research on isoflavone shows that eating traditional soy foods may:

  • Prevent the growth of tumors .
  • Induce apoptosis .
  • Aid in DNA repair.

Population studies do not link consuming soy with any cancer. In fact, evidence continues to grow showing that eating traditional soy foods may actually lower the risk of breast, prostate, and endometrial cancer.

Reading Health Behaviors In Different Countries Correctly

Science tries to avoid correlating behaviors with risk factors too quickly. And its that very reason extensive research must first be done to take all factors into consideration.

Consider any correlation between soy and breast cancer world-wide. Rates of breast cancer in general are much higher in the United States than in many Asian countries for example, where soy products are a major diet staple, Dr. Roesch says.

Those countries also typically feature an overall lower-fat diet and differences in birthrates, both of which affect cancer rates.

One possible reason breast cancer has been on the rise lately in these countries may be due to adoption of a Western diet and lifestyle, which may include higher intake of saturated fats and not specifically the consumption of soy.

Try To Avoid Isoflavone Extracts

Dr. Roesch does advise women to avoid soy isoflavone extracts, especially in large doses.

And as a general rule youre better off getting your nutrition through food sources than through supplements.

When youre taking doses of isoflavones from a vitamin store that can be several hundred times higher than what you would ingest from eating tofu or drinking soy milk, that could be a potential problem, she says.

Whether youre concerned about your risk or if youre high-risk for breast cancer its always best to make sure to talk to your doctor about everything you put into your body, she emphasizes. Together you can cut through any misinformation and identify what works best to keep you healthy.

One cup of Silk Original Soy Milk has:

  • 110 calories
  • 4.5 grams of fat
  • 8 grams of protein

Soy milk has no cholesterol, because it doesnt come from animal fat. If youre looking to add probiotics or fermented food to your diet, probiotic and fermented soy milk are also available.

The calorie content in 1 cup of soy milk, about 80 to 110 calories, is lower than that of a comparable serving of dairy whole milk. One cup of whole dairy milk is 149 calories with 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates.

Soy milk, on the other hand, has 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates.

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What Every Breast Cancer Patient Should Eat

This is an important read for patients and supporters alike!

Over 2.8 million women in the U.S. have a history of breast cancer, including those getting treated now. Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis. especially for women . And the foods we eat could play an integral role in potentially fighting cancer and keeping the body as healthy as possible during treatment.

Why Eat Healthy?

A nutritious diet will fuel the immune system by providing important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish healthy cells, say nutritionists Jane Schwartz, RD, and Stephanie Goodman, CNC. A nourishing diet also provides lots of fiber, which feeds the beneficial bacteria that are critical for immune health.

Cancer-fighting foods, like leafy greens, berries, and mushrooms, can also help you manage your weight. That keeps your body healthy in many ways, including reducing excess body around the waist, which can trigger cancer cell growth due to increased insulin production.

Registered Dietitian MS, RD, CP., who is also the author of Plant-Based Nutrition, advocates healthy foods for breast cancer patients, and emphasizes eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and a couple servings of whole soy products daily, which can reduce the risk of breast cancer incidence and recurrence.

Whether you snack on carrots and oranges or eat salads and drink tea, healthy dietary choices could have a big impact on your bodys ability to prevent and fight cancer.

One Reason There Isnt A More Definitive Answer Is Because Isoflavone Either Acts Like Oestrogen In The Body Or Its Opposite

Is soy OK for breast cancer patients?

One reason there isnt a more definitive answer is because isoflavone either acts like oestrogen in the body, or its opposite. When we eat soya, isoflavone either binds to the alpha oestrogen receptor in the body, which stimulates a tumours growth rate, or the beta receptor, which decreases growth rate and induces apoptosis.

Isoflavone prefers to bind to beta receptors, says Bruce Trock, professor of epidemiology and oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland in the US. That makes it more likely to reduce potential cancer risk.

The impact of soya on breast cancer risk may depend on when we start eating it.

Most studies on Asian populations included women who have eaten it since early childhood and were probably also exposed to it in the uterus, says Trock, compared to Western studies involving women who mostly didnt eat soya until later in life.

Starting to consume soya products at an earlier age may make soya more beneficial

Giving soya to animals at the equivalent of middle age doesnt seem to reduce risk or growth rate of tumours, he says.

But if researchers feed mice prior to puberty, then expose them to carcinogens, they get fewer and smaller tumours than if you dont give them soya.

Soya cycle

Meanwhile, clinical and population data shows daily soya intake can halve the frequency and severity of hot flashes even when the placebo affect is taken into consideration, says Mindy Kurzer, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

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Does Soy Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer

If theres one solid conclusion from all the data on soy and breast cancer, its that eating moderate amounts of soy foods very likely does not increase the risk of breast cancer. The majority of high-quality studies and analyses have found that soy foods do not increase risk, even when eaten at levels much higher than those typically seen in the U.S.3-4

Soy And Cancer Risk: Our Experts Advice

Theres a lot of conflicting information going around about soy: Is it healthy? Is it dangerous? And if its OK to eat, why do some people say it isnt?

Some of the misunderstandings come from the fact that studies in people and studies in animals may show different results. In some animal studies, rodents that were exposed to high doses of compounds found in soy called isoflavones showed an increased risk of breast cancer. This is thought to be because the isoflavones in soy can act like estrogen in the body, and increased estrogen has been linked to certain types of breast cancer.

But rodents process soy differently from people, and the same results have not been seen in people. Also, doses of isoflavones in the animal studies are much higher than in humans. In fact, in human studies, the estrogen effects of soy seem to either have no effect at all, or to reduce breast cancer risk . This may be because the isoflavones can actually block the more potent natural estrogens in the blood.

According to Marji McCullough, ScD, RD, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, soy foods are healthy and safe. But she advises against taking soy supplements which contain much higher isoflavone concentrations than food until more research is done.

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For Breast Cancer Survivors Eating Soy Tied To A Longevity Boost

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New research finds eating soy milk, edamame and tofu does not have harmful effects for women with breast cancer, as some have worried. In fact, for some breast cancer survivors, soy consumption was found to be tied to longer life.hide caption

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New research finds eating soy milk, edamame and tofu does not have harmful effects for women with breast cancer, as some have worried. In fact, for some breast cancer survivors, soy consumption was found to be tied to longer life.

Women with breast cancer sometimes get confusing messages about soy-based foods, including soy milk, edamame and tofu.

On one hand, studies have suggested that the estrogen-like compounds in soy called isoflavones may inhibit the development or recurrence of breast cancer.

On the other hand, there’s been concern that consuming soy-based foods can interfere with the effectiveness of breast cancer drugs such as tamoxifen.

A new study helps to resolve this question. “Our finding would suggest that soy food consumption does not have a harmful effect,” says Fang Fang Zhang, a cancer epidemiologist at Tufts University.

And for some breast cancer survivors, soy seems beneficial. The study tied higher soy consumption to a longer life after breast cancer, especially for women with hormone receptor negative breast cancers which tend to be aggressive, and don’t respond to hormone therapy.

Should Cancer Patients Avoid Soy

Soy May Be Beneficial For Breast Cancer Patients, Experts Say

Do soy foods increase your cancer risk? April marks National Soy Foods Month, so let’s explore that question.

According to historical documents and archaeological finds, soybeans were first cultivated sometime in the 11th century BC in the eastern half of northern China, and soy has remained an important part of Asian diets ever since. Soy was first introduced to the United States in the mid-1700s. These days, soy sometimes gets a bad rap, but it can be part of a healthy pattern of eating.

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Sunflower And Pumpkin Seeds

These seeds contain high amounts of plant estrogen-like compounds.

A study of nearly 3,000 breast cancer patients and 5,000 women without the disease suggested that higher consumption of these seeds, as well as soybeans, reduced the risk of breast cancer after menopause. The study was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2012.

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Soy Intake While On Aromatase Inhibitors Or Tamoxifen

While soy may help relieve your hot flashes, researchers caution postmenopausal women against having too high a dose of soy, particularly in the form of supplements that contain high amounts of soy isoflavones. And if you’ve had estrogen-sensitive breast cancer, and are taking a selective estrogen receptor modulator, such as tamoxifen, or an aromatase inhibitors, such as exemestane, it’s a good idea to refrain from soy. The soy isoflavone genistein may counteract estrogen suppressorsand that would make your post-treatment medication less effective.

After you’ve completed a full course of estrogen suppressors you can start including soy in your diet again, in modest amounts. But first, talk with your oncologist. If you still want the benefits of isoflavones, try dining on legumes, whole grains, and nuts. On the other hand, a good reason to avoid soy altogether is if you know that you’re allergic to it. You should also skip soy if you have a thyroid disorder or goiter.

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Natural Soy Is The Healthiest Choice

When choosing soy-based products go for natural options rather than highly processed foods. And eat them in moderation, Dr. Roesch advises.

Plant estrogen-based sources such as soy milk, tofu and edamame are all good choices. But make them part of a balanced diet thats high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats.

Is Soy Safe To Eat After Breast Cancer

Soy Consumption Linked to Breast Cancer Treatment

New Study Suggests Soy Will Not Increase Risk of Return of Breast Cancer

April 5, 2011 — For years, breast cancer survivors were often counseled to avoid soy foods and supplements because of estrogen-like effects that might theoretically cause breast tumors to grow.

Now, a new study of more than 18,312 women shows that eating soy foods did not increase risk of breast cancer recurrence.

The new findings are being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

âIf you regularly eat soy, you donât need to worry or avoid it, and women who want to lead a healthy life, can safely include some soy in their diets,â says study researcher Xiao Oh Shu, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

In addition to the isoflavones which may act like estrogens in the body, âsoy has many anticancer properties, antioxidants, nutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins that may contribute to its beneficial effect on health,â Shu says.

Shu and colleagues analyzed data from four large studies of women with a history of breast cancer diagnosed between ages 20 and 83. Soy intake was assessed using questionnaires in all of these studies. The study only looked at soy foods, not supplements.

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Are Processed Soy Foods Safe For Survivors

Soy protein powder and isoflavone supplements were not found to have an effect on markers of breast cancer risk. When soy protein isolate is one of many ingredients, it often does not offer as much isoflavone content as a standard serving of less processed soy. Cooking methods, however, may also deplete isoflavone content by up to 80-90%. Soy foods that have undergone minimal processing may be the best choice, as they offer more total isoflavones along with dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Lets compare:

Type of Soy

Soy And Breast Cancer: Is There A Connection

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Y. Chen, MD, MPH

Could adding soy milk to your coffee or substituting tofu for meat increase your risk of breast cancer? The research is conflicting, but our breast cancer doctor, Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, is here to help us cut through the noise.

one of the most common questions I get from breast cancer survivors, says Chen, a breast oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Womens Cancers at Dana-Farber.

While laboratory studies on soy compounds in isolation have sparked questions about a possible connection, studies of breast cancer patients in China and Japan have not shown any increased breast cancer risk resulting from soy consumption.

There is a biological basis for this line of inquiry.

Soy has what are called phytoestrogens, Chen says. These are plant-based estrogens. If you look at certain compounds in isolation, some of them have been shown in lab studies to increase cancer cell growth. However, that has never been shown in people.

The most extensive population studies on this issue were conducted in China. The Shanghai Womens Health Study surveyed more than 70,000 Chinese women about their health and food intake, including soy. Soy consumption is exponentially higher in China than in the United States. Many Chinese are lactose intolerant, and so they begin drinking soy milk in childhood. In addition, other forms of soy, such as tofu and edamame, are part of the traditional Chinese diet.

Learn More:

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As A Survivor Does Soy Improve Survival And Lower The Chances Of Recurrence

Current evidence suggests that a diet high in soy may improve survival and lower the risk of recurrence in women with breast cancer.7-9 The benefits dont appear limited to Asian populations either.

One analysis combined data from three large, long-running studies of survivors from both Asian and Western countries. It found that women who ate at least 10 mg of soy per day after a breast cancer diagnosis had a 25 percent lower risk of recurrence compared to those eating less than 4 mg per day.9

However, soy is not currently recommended as a way for breast cancer survivors to lower the risk of recurrence. There are still some open questions about these findings because the studies were looking at many different types of soy, and because women who regularly eat soy simply tend to be healthier than those who dont.9

Are Phytoestrogens Protective Or A Risk For Breast Cancer

Soy Foods: Good or bad in breast cancer?

Some studies link consumption of lignans to reduced tumor cell growth:

  • When lignan was added to the highly aggressive and invasive human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-321, researchers observed signs associated with a decrease in cell proliferation.
  • In women with recent diagnoses of breast cancer, higher intake of flax increased cell death, therefore leading to slower growth of the tumor and lower proliferative rates.

Some studies link consumption of soy products to reduced breast cancer risk and reduced risk of recurrence:

  • Phytoestrogens, especially when consumed regularly during childhood, have been linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer. One study found that a decreased risk of breast cancer was associated with greater soy intake during childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and the protective effect of dietary soy intake during childhood was the strongest.
  • For Chinese women previously diagnosed with breast cancer, higher consumption of soy was correlated with decreased recurrence of cancer.
  • In one strain of rats, dietary exposure to soy from conception through adulthood decreased the incidence of mammary tumors in adult animals by 20 percent.
  • Exposure of another strain of rats to phytoestrogens in soy from conception through weaning led to decreases in tumor number and incidence.

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Can Soy Prevent And Treat Prostate Cancer

Written By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on November 10, 2020

As I discuss in my video The Role of Soy Foods in Prostate Cancer Prevention and Treatment, a compilation of 13 observational studies on soy food consumption and the risk of prostate cancer found that soy foods appear to be protective. What are observational studies? As opposed to interventional studies, in observational studies, researchers observe what people are eating but dont intervene and try to change their diets. In these studies, they observed that men who ate more soy foods had lower rates of prostate cancer, but the problem with observational studies is that there could be confounding factors. For example, people who choose to eat soy also make other lifestyle decisions that lower the risk of cancer , maybe that is why they have less cancer. Most of the studies tried to control for these other lifestyle factors, but you cant control for everything. Whats more, most of the studies were done in Asia, so maybe tofu consumption is just a sign of eating a more traditional diet. Is it possible that the reason non-tofu consumers got more cancer is that they had abandoned their traditional diet? If only we could look at a Western population that ate a lot of soy. We can: the Seventh-Day Adventists.

That soy milk stat from the Adventist study is astounding. What about fermented soy foods, though? That was the subject of Fermented or Unfermented Soy Foods for Prostate Cancer Prevention?.


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