Soy is Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors

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Breast cancer patients and survivors can lay their fears to rest regarding soy consumption. A new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) affirms that soy is safe for breast cancer patients and survivors. Soy consumption does not lead to increased estrogen levels in humans and may have potential benefits among women receiving certain breast cancer treatments or with certain tumor characteristics. Soy is now listed in the AICR's Food That Fight Cancer.

"The AICR statement, combined with the position of the American Cancer Society which was issued earlier this year, provides considerable reassurance that soyfoods are safe, and possibly even beneficial, for women with a history of breast cancer," says soy expert, Mark Messina, PHD, executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute.  Dr. Messina also noted that the human evidence, which consists of both clinical and population studies, directly contradicts the results from rodent studies, which formed the basis for the controversy more than a decade ago.

Current science confirms that it is safe for breast cancer survivors to eat a moderate amount of soy – one to two servings daily – from a variety of foods.  One serving is equal to 1 cup of soy milk, ½ cup tofu or tempeh, ½ cup cooked edamame, or 1 ounce of soy nuts. Such soy foods provide fiber, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, and are low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free.

These research findings have considerable public health significance because of the increasing popularity of soy foods. As many families shift toward plant-based diets to improve health and reduce costs, soy is often  the protein of choice. Not only can it help to reduce meat consumption, soy is a number one food source of high-quality, complete protein that may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and provide other important health benefits. Population studies have also shown that soy intake is associated with reduced fracture risk and higher bone mineral density.