Consumption of soy foods by breast cancer patients remains a topic of debate in the medical community. Soybeans and certain other plant foods (such as whole grains, seeds, fruits) are rich in isoflavones, a plant chemical in the class known as phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are natural chemicals that can mimic some of the effects of estrogen in the body.
Several studies have shown beneficial effects of many years of consuming traditional soy foods (such as tofu) on womenís risk of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, a small number of studies have suggested that development of breast cancer in susceptible women may be stimulated by consumption of high levels of purified soy protein and/or foods containing high amounts of isoflavones. Therefore, phytoestrogens have received a great deal of negative press recently.
Moreover, some women with estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) breast cancer are treated with anti-hormonal approaches. Dietary consumption of estrogen-like substances would be counter-productive for such patients.
If you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, be informed about soy by reading extensively on the topic. Importantly, consult your oncologist and integrative medical physician for guidance on whether or not eating any soy foods is appropriate for you.
If your physicians approve of your eating any soy foods while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, restrict your consumption of soy foods to no more than a moderate amount in your diet. You can consider adding soy milk to cereal, and tofu to stir-fries and pastas.