The latest on soy and breast cancer: What you need to know

Posted on October 4, 2014 by

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Could your daily soy lattes up your risk of breast cancer or lend a protective effect?

So far, the research has been conflicting. While some studies have shown that soy can increase tumor growth at the cellular level, other research has found that soy may actually have a protective effect. However, most of what we know about this link comes from epidemiological studies (looking at broad population data), which have not been able to find a clear cause-and-effect link between soy and breast cancer.

Now, a new study published in the JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute directly compared women who took soy supplements with women who took a placebo to determine what effect soy would have on the expression of genes associated with breast cancer.

The researchers looked at 140 patients who had been recently diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. In the 2-3 weeks before their surgery (either a mastectomy or lumpectomy), these women were given either soy supplements (the equivalent of about four 16 oz. glasses of soy milk or four large servings of tofu) or a placebo every day. “The hypothesis was that soy food for a limited period of time could influence the behavior of already established breast cancer,” says study co-author Jacqueline Bromberg, M.D., Ph.D., breast medical oncologist and researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

After a few weeks, they found that some women in the soy group had high levels of genistein, a metabolite of soy, while the women in the placebo group did not. And interestingly, patients with high levels of this metabolite saw an increase in the genes associated with tumor growth. However, it’s important to note that the tumors were not actually growing better in these women.

More.

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Posted in: Family safety