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Eating Soy after Breast Cancer

Posted on 04/12/2011

It has long been thought that certain breast cancer survivors should steer clear from soy and all its products. The fear was that eating foods with soy would increase the risk of cancer recurrence, but new research suggests that those worries appear to be unfounded.

As a breast cancer survivor, I found this to be particularly interesting! I know with so many women being affected by the disease, either themselves or a loved one, that this would most likely be of interest to you too.

Personally, I did not shy away from foods containing soy. In fact, I consumed them for the health benefits. But, I know I may not be the majority and I wanted to let you to know about this.

According to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, they didn't see any evidence that soy intake after breast cancer increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence or deaths from it.

The study indicated that soy food consumption among breast cancer survivors is safe and may even reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease.

Researchers were quick to point out that they were referring to food containing soy or soy foods, such as tofu and soybeans, not soy supplements.

These groundbreaking findings were recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Researcher's annual meeting.

I would like to let you know that the results from these studies are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.  So, please do not make any decisions before it is "official" so to speak.

A little more about the study, which is showing great promise for breast cancer survivors...it studied data from nearly 10,000 (9,515 to be exact) women who participated in one of three studies about breast cancer survivors: life after cancer epidemiology, women's healthy eating and the Shanghai breast cancer survival studies.

The researchers reviewed information from food questionnaires about the women's soy food intake. The average time from breast cancer diagnosis and soy food evaluation was about 14 months.  After a follow-up that averaged 7.4 years, they found 1,348 breast cancer recurrences and 1,171 deaths from breast cancer and other causes.

Compared to women who ate the least amount of soy foods, women in the upper 10th percentile group for soy food intake had a 35 percent reduced risk of recurrence. Those who ate the most soy foods also had a 17 percent reduced risk of death from all causes during the follow up, but that finding did not reach a great enough number to create statistical significance.

A key observation about the study is that the Shanghai group had considerably higher levels of soy food consumption than among those participants in the U.S.

So, the bottom line is how much soy is considered protective? Women can get the same levels as those in the top 10 percentile by consuming a mere cup of soymilk or 2 oz. of tofu per day.

Soy foods have long been part of a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and high in protein; Many countries around the world have been eating soy rich foods for decades. Now there's proof that it might not be considered off limits by many breast cancer survivors any longer. This is good news...let's hope there's more research done and we continue to increase our understanding of this disease.

Go and enjoy your SSHE pancakes with spiced apple topping and veggie (soy) sausages!

 

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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