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Decoding Food Fear: Soy | Ingredient1

posted Jul 22, 2016, 6:20 AM by Amanda Bontempo   [ updated Jul 22, 2016, 6:23 AM ]

Rumors of breast cancer and “man breasts” leave many pushing away the soy milk. There’s an outcry that “soy is in everything!” So how did this darling of the natural food movement become ostracized, or was that just the rumor mill perpetuating scientific evidence that’s been disproven? Amanda Bontempo, an RD at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center, dispels the falsehoods, gives actionable guidance on what to eat and breaks down the science so you can have confidence in your food choices.

1. Estrogen can fuel the growth of certain breast cancers - is there a definitive answer whether isoflavones have the same effect?  

Because soy contains estrogen-like compounds, there was fear that it may raise the risk of hormone driven cancers. Early animal studies seemed to support this. We have a lot more research now and evidence shows that this is not true. Human studies consistently show that soy does not increase breast cancer risk. Humans do not process isoflavones in the same way that animals do. In fact, research shows that soy is not only safe but may also be protective, lowering risk for cancer survivors when eaten in moderate amounts. A moderate amount of soy is 1-2 servings per day.

According to the American Cancer Society, for breast cancer survivors, current evidence suggests no adverse effects on recurrence or survival from consuming soy and soy foods and there is a potential for these foods to exert a positive synergistic effect with tamoxifen, a common anti-estrogen drug for estrogen sensitive breast cancer (Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Survivors, here).

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