Should breast cancer survivors eat soy?

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – For years, there’s been confusing debate over whether breast cancer survivors should eat soy. And now that soy is more popular in the American diet, knowing whether to eat it or not is important.

Health expert, Karen Owoc, says soy is a good source of nutrition. Soy contains protein, fiber, and isoflavones, as well as other minerals like potassium and calcium.

Isoflavones are antioxidants and plant estrogens. They function similarly to estrogen in humans. The increased risk of breast cancer is linked to estrogen.

Estrogen is a female sex hormone. Most breast cancers are “estrogen-receptor – positive.” They’re sensitive to estrogen and estrogen causes cancer cells to grow.

Karen says this raised rumors that plant estrogens from soy raised the risk for breast cancer but studies found that soy in foods do not contain enough isoflavones to increase the risk of breast cancer.

A study found that the average daily intake of soy by:

  • American women: 3.2mg (equates to 1oz soy milk)
  • Shanghai women: 45.9 mg (equates to 2 servings of whole soy)

The women who ate the most soy food had a 27% reduced risk

Are Soy Supplements a Good Option?

The researchers warned that soy supplements are not recommended for reducing the risks of breast cancer because the amount and type of isoflavones in them may differ from actual soy foods.

Karen advises avoiding soy supplements.

The Takeaway: Stick to eating whole soy foods versus highly processed supplements.

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