Breast Cancer and Soy Foods
By Bren Boston, MD
Bottom line: Eating 1-2 servings per day of WHOLE soy foods is recommended for a healthy diet, and will NOT increase your risk for breast cancer. Whole soy foods are safe to eat for breast cancer survivors.
Lots of women are scared to eat soy due to the phytoestrogens, fearing it will increase their risk of estrogen-stimulated breast cancer. In truth, women who have had moderate intake of whole soy foods over the course of their lifetime have a reduced risk of breast cancer.
Not all soy is equal. The healthy soy foods are referred to as Whole Soy Foods, as in, not processed or minimally processed. Whole soy foods include tofu, unsweetened soy milk, tempeh, and edamame.
Processed fake meat foods containing soy are NOT considered Whole Soy and are not considered healthy. Soy fake burgers, soy fake hot dogs, soy fake ground beef should be enjoyed only rarely as a treat, as they are not healthful and are not a Whole Soy Food.
In addition to not recommending processed soy foods, taking soy supplements or capsules is not recommended because not enough is known regarding safety of soy supplements to recommend them. Another aspect to be aware of is pesticide residue. A lot of soybean crops use pesticides, try to find organic, pesticide-free whole soy foods to enjoy.
Soy contains protein, isoflavones (phytoestrogens), antioxidants, and fiber. Soy is a bean and is a dense nutritious, healthful food. Studies show that a lifelong diet rich in whole soy foods (not processed soy fake-foods) leads to a reduction in the risk of breast cancer in women. Eating 1-2 servings per day of WHOLE soy foods can reduce your risk of breast cancer. Whole soy foods are safe to eat for breast cancer survivors.
Enjoy your steamed and salted edamame tonight!
www.cancer.org, the website of the American Cancer Society
www.mayoclinic.org, the website of The Mayo Clinic
www.MDAnderson.org, the website of MD Anderson Cancer Center