I often hear about soy being linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. Is this true?

Soy, a plant in the pea family, has been common in Asian diets for thousands of years. Common foods made from soybeans include tofu, soymilk, soy nuts, miso (soy paste), tempeh, soy burgers and edamame.

Because soy contain isoflavones, compounds that have similar properties to the hormone estrogen, there was a theory that soy products could increase a person’s risk of breast cancer or other hormone-related cancers, or even cause some cancer tumors to grow faster.

Recent studies show that there is no proof that isoflavones increase the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer. While similar to estrogen, they might also have anti-estrogen properties, so it’s possible that they could have positive benefits for cancer patients.

Soy might have positive health benefits for other health issues such as heart disease as well. Studies on soy’s effect on cancer and health continue, but in the meantime, experts do not recommend avoiding soy products, even for breast cancer survivors.

ä Internet Resources:

American Institute for Cancer Research aicr.org

MD Anderson – Do Soy Foods Increase Cancer Risk?