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Why breast cancer patients should eat soy foods

by , 08 August 2017
Why breast cancer patients should eat soy foods
In the past, doctors have warned breast cancer patients not to eat soy foods such as milk, tofu and edamame...

Now, new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association represents “a complete turnaround” from the previous misunderstanding about the link between eating soy and breast cancer, according to Sally Scroggs, a registered dietician and senior health education specialist at MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center in Houston in the United States.

Scroggs says doctors have gone from saying “no soy for breast cancer survivors” to “it's not going to hurt”. She adds that now, it looks like they can say “it may help”. To find out why, keep reading...

Study finds that breast cancer patients who eat soy foods are less likely to die or have a recurrrence

To reach their findings, the researchers behind the study followed more than 5,000 women in China who’d undergone a mastectomy for about four years. Overall, 534 women died or had recurrence during the study period.
 
They found that the women who consumed the most soy protein – around 15 g or more per day – had a 29% lower risk of dying and a 32% lower risk of recurrence compared with the women who consumed less than 5 g of soy protein per day.
 
Furthermore, the researchers noted that women who ate between 9.5 g and 15 g of soy protein per day had nearly the same reduction in risk as the women who ate more than 15 g per day. In fact, the researchers observed no additional benefits to eating more than 11 g of soy protein per day. To put this into perspective, a glass of soy milk and a cup of shelled edamame contain about 7 g and 14 g of soy protein respectively.

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Soy foods are rich in naturally occuring oestrogens – especially isoflavones

So what gives soy foods their breast cancer benefits? According to the researchers, it may be their rich content of naturally occurring oestrogens, especially isoflavones, that can mimic the effects of oestrogen in the female body.
 
Because most common types of breast cancer rely on oestrogen to spread, doctors once feared that soy isoflavones could stimulate oestrogen receptiors in breast cancer cells.

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