I will admit that soy scares me a little. I know it's an inexpensive, cholesterol-free source of protein that can be enjoyed in so many ways from tofu, to soymilk, from edamame, to soy ice cream. I've also heard that eating too much soy has been linked to breast cancer. That's because soy contains phytoestrogens, a group of chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen. Women need estrogen to regulate their menstrual cycles, have babies, and it's also involved with bone and heart health. Some experts are concerned that these phytoestrogens will stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive cancers since high exposures of estrogen over a woman's lifetime are linked with an increased risk for breast cancer. Others may argue that these plant-based estrogens may actually prevent breast cancer since they block the activity of the stronger human estrogen.
So what's a soy lover to do? To find out
A recent Japanese study found that there could be a potential benefit to eating soybean products for breast cancer prevention. This was just a single study conducted with 4,000 women, but definitely a great start to help figure out the connection between soy and breast cancer. I'm not quite convinced yet though since there's no clear evidence that the phytoestrogens in soy products cause or prevent breast cancer. I'm going to stick with what the experts are suggesting, and just enjoy soy products in moderation.