Soybeans are the classic version of a vegetarian meat substitutes. Affordable even to the poorest of mankind, these protein-packed foods are widely used for their minimal calorie content and maximum protein punch. This special food finds itself entangled between conflicting study results and statements that appreciate or condemn its effects on human health. Hailed by some for controlling hot flashes, osteoporosis and cancers such as breast and prostate, the same food is hated by many for fear of breast cancer risk, dementia and thyroid problems.
Science proclaims soy as one of the healthiest foods available in abundance to every man living in this world, but conflicting research prevents mankind from advertising it to the world. Containing abundant quantities of isoflavones, it is this element that brings about varying results on our very own soybean. Isoflavones are estrogen-like compounds found in plants that have a weaker effect comparatively. Estrogen is likelier to promote the growth and development of breast cancer. Consuming isoflavone-rich soy foods is feared to worsen the chances of breast cancer greatly. Contrarily, there have been few other studies indicating positive effects of soy intake on inhibiting breast cancer risks. Read more about breast cancer, its signs, symptoms, diagnoses and the foods you can eat to remain at a reduced risk from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Studies that Don’t Conclude Yet Confuse
Eat Soy, Experience the Joy of Cancer-inhibition
Its more than 25 years since the conflict in information surrounding soy intake and breast cancer risk started appearing and we’ve not been able to come to any decisive conclusions until now. It all started on a positive note when soy-consuming countries showed decreased mortality rates which made researchers curious about isoflavones’ role as anti-chemo agents. That’s mainly because these elements contain both estrogen-dependent and estrogen-independent properties that give us clues that it might obstruct the occurrence of breast cancer.
Much research on soy started evolving as many women in Asian countries showed decreased risk of breast cancer compared to women in Western countries. Soybeans and soy products mainly contain two isoflavones called genistein and daidzein. Different research results prove genistein to prevent cancer of the breast, prostate, colon and skin while daidzein is also said to possess anticancer effects. Yet another study showed that women who consumed soy were 21% less-likelier to die over 9 ½ years compared to those women who ate the least. The same study also showed that there are no side effects such as increased cancer risk due to soy consumption. In fact, it only promotes various other health benefits such as decreased heart problems, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases along with the anti-cancer effect.
Research Show Soy Foods as Cancer-promoting Foods
Adding a small amount of soy foods to diet has the tendency to trigger cancer-inducing genes in the body, according to a study. The study involved 140 women who were diagnosed with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer between 2003 and 2007 and scheduled for a mastectomy or lumpectomy in 2-3 weeks. Within those three weeks these women were grouped into two where 70 of them consumed soy protein (52 grams daily) and another 70 consumed a placebo that looked like soy protein. On comparison of each woman’s breast tissue sample that was taken before and after surgery, results showed that genes that promoted cancer cell growth were turned on in women who consumed soy protein. Two studies in 2009 done by reputed study groups came to strikingly different conclusions. One study observed whether soy triggered the recurrence of the disease and concluded positively. Yet another study on Chinese breast cancer survivors most of whom underwent a mastectomy showed that those women who consumed a soy-rich diet were at a decreased risk of recurrence compared to those who ate a diet that contained little of soy.
All said and done, consumption of soy still remains a vital treatment source to minimize menopausal symptoms and avoid bone loss. There are study results that support consumption of soy from a younger age compared to inclusion of soy-rich foods from menopause. We need yet more conclusive research studies that either approve or disprove soy usage as an agent against breast cancer. Until then, there is no harm in eating moderate quantities of soy foods.
Sources of Soy
Feel free to consume one or two servings of soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy milk daily. You can substitute peanuts for soybeans, soymilk for cow’s milk while eating your breakfast cereal, use soy protein instead or red meat while preparing gravies, use miso dressing for your salad or relish yummy smoothies with soy milk.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.