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Soy May Have Negative Effects On Breast Cancer

The last ten years have brought about an entire food movement dedicated to finding alternatives to meat, dairy, gluten, and a number of other ingredients. In many of these cases the main item used in place of these is soy, and while it has created some incredibly delicious products, boosts protein levels, and offers some additional benefits such as nice skin and hair, it may also be a danger to your breasts. Web MD writes: “A cheap source of protein, soy is used in the manufacture of a wide range of highly processed foods, including breads, cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals, soy ‘milk’, non-dairy creamers, imitation cheeses, and even some yogurts.”

Soy contains moderate levels of naturally occurring estrogen like chemicals and hormones, which can be used in some cases to battle deficiencies such as those found during menopause. Unfortunately, the drawback to utilizing any kind of hormone replacement therapy is that you face the risk of an increased chance of cancer, breast or otherwise, and this is also true of soy. Now, a study performed on soy supplementation in diets and the adverse effect it has on cancer related genes has surfaced and has many people questioning their love for this meatless alternative.

How It Works

The study that was performed on soy and the genes that it effects was published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute on September 4th, and included thoughts on the impact that consuming soy might have on breast cancer, and whether it might impede treatment or prevention options. The leader of the study was Mosha Shike, M.D. who hails from Memorial Sloan-Kattering Cancer Center within the Department of Medicine. Dr. Shike also works within the Weill Cornell Medical College, which is located in New York City.

Addressing The Study

The study was conducted using a placebo controlled experiment that judged how much soy supplementation effected gene expression in breast cancer, and how much of a risk this posed to women. One hundred and forty patients underwent the study during a four year period between 2003 and 2007. The enrollment was randomized, sending participants to either the soy supplement or the placebo, which was a milk protein. This occurred over a seven day period while undergoing treatment for a tumor in the breast tissues. Science Daily reports: “In an accompanying editorial, V. Craig Jordan, O.B.E., D.Sc., Ph.D., FMedSci, from the Department of Oncology at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, DC, discusses how timing of soy supplementation is critical and reviews the evidence in the literature on phytoestrogens, which are contained in soy, and their known action in breast cancer.”

The changes that were observed included those in the genes that aid in the promotion of cell proliferation and progression in women. These happened within the group of women who had all taken their supplement from the soy ingredients. An unfortunate side effect recorded by the study has led the authors to believe that there may be a reason to be concerned over consuming too much soy, especially if you are undergoing treatment for cancer.

Making Nutritious Decisions

Soy may be portraying a few traits that health enthusiasts and cancer patients might find upsetting, but this doesn’t mean that the ingredient needs to be cut out of your diet all together. Far from it; in fact, small doses of soy throughout the week can increase many health benefits and provide those who ingest it with healthy hair, skin, and of course better muscular growth, especially if you don’t eat meat. Cancer.org has stated: “More research is needed to understand the relationship between specific forms of soy and doses of isoflavones on cancer risk and recurrence. We also need to learn more about childhood exposure to isoflavones and risk of cancer.”

They also suggest that more people relax and enjoy this meat alternative rather than looking for reasons to dismiss it. Until the information coming back is conclusive about the levels of soy that might be negative, as well as whether these types of problems are even a common occurrence in North America, there’s no way to judge analytically whether or not soy is right.

In the past eating soy was only something that people had to worry about in Asian countries or throughout their cuisine, but tofu, edemame and many other soy based foods pop up throughout more of your diet than you probably realized. As mentioned above they are used in a lot of foods as fillers, and are generally overly processed. Fortunately, fresh tofu and soy ingredients aren’t hard to come by if you know where to look, and ether you’re choosing a fresh bean for a salad or a fermented miso paste for a soup, it’s important to keep an open mind, and eat everything in moderation. There’s no reason why soy can’t be enjoyed, just monitor your intake if you have a history of cancer.

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