Soy and Cancer Prevention- Myth or Science?

March 11, 2017

 

Research has shown that there are many potential benefits to consuming soy products when it comes to decreasing cholesterol, controlling blood sugar levels, and regulating cell growth. The relationship between soy and cancer prevention has especially been popular, because of its ability to self-destruct abnormal cells and slow down the progression of tumors. According to current research, people should consume whole, natural sources of soy rather than processed, concentrated sources. In particular, studies have revealed that high consumption of natural soy products is associated with low incidences of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer. Soybeans contain the isoflavones genistein and daidzein, which provide various cancer-fighting benefits. For example, genistein stimulates growth of estrogen-sensitive cancer cells, while exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects. Uncontrolled angiogenesis is considered to be a key step in cancer growth, invasion, and metastasis, so an anti-angiogenic effect is a vital way to reduce the risk of developing cancer. In general, isoflavones have been reported to decrease cancer cell growth, making the relationship between soybeans and cancer prevention even stronger. Studies have shown great differences in breast cancer incidence among women with Western lifestyles in comparison to women from Asia. Most women living in Asia depend on soy as their main source of protein, consuming about 10 times the quantity of soy foods as the average woman in the U.S. Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than women in the U.S, leading us to believe that there is a correlation between soy consumption and a decreased prevalence of cancer. From the research I have done on the topic, I feel confident that soy may have protective effects on cancer progression, but I feel more evidence-based research is required before recommending soy as a potential treatment for cancer. 

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