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Soy & Risk of Breast Cancer  

Can eating soy foods affect the risk of developing breast cancer?

Yes. Anecdotal evidence regarding the low incidence of breast cancer among Asian women, whose diets are rich in soy-based foods, suggests there may be a favorable connection.

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.

The majority of studies suggest that, starting at an early age, many years of consuming soy foods such as tofu and other foods rich in phytoestrogens decreases a womanís risk of developing breast cancer. To help prevent breast cancer, you can consider consuming more soy foods. Try soy milk on your cereal, and tofu in stir-fries and pastas. Consult your integrative medical physician for guidance on the appropriateness of your adding more soy foods to your diet.

Eating highly-processed soy foods appears to provide less protection, however. Furthermore, a small number of studies have suggested that susceptible women who consume high levels of purified soy protein and/or foods containing high amounts of isoflavones may have an increased risk of breast cancer. Therefore, phytoestrogens have received a great deal of negative press recently.

If you are a woman at high risk of breast cancer, a breast cancer patient undergoing treatment, or a breast cancer survivor, restrict your consumption of soy foods to no more than a moderate amount in your diet. Be sure to consult your oncologist and integrative medical physician for guidance on whether eating any soy foods is appropriate for you.


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