I have heard much talk about the connection between soy and breast cancer. I've heard eating soy can prevent breast cancer, but I've also heard that it can increase your risk, or be harmful for breast cancer patients.
First off, let's bring up the fact that soy is not some new food we just discovered. It has been eaten in many Asian cultures for thousands of years, including products such as tofu, edamame (steamed whole soybean), soymilk, and fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, and soy sauce.
Recently, in North America, soy has become a huge hit. All these products are becoming widely available, in addition to some new ones like soy nuts, soy-based meat alternatives, soy-based beverages, soy chips, soy ice cream, soy yogurt, and soy cheese.
Soy contains phytoestrogens, a group of chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone necessary for having babies, and is also involved with bone and heart health in women. Higher exposure to estrogen over a lifetime is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Therefore, you can see why people might be worried about the estrogen-like phytoestrogens in soy products.
So can phytoestrogens from soy foods affect breast cancer risk? To find out
Right now, there is no evidence that consuming phytoestrogens found in soy products will affect healthy women, or increase their risk of breast cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research stresses that studies on soy and breast cancer are not conclusive, and more studies need to be conducted before any dietary recommendations can be made.
Fit's Tips: Women can help prevent breast cancer by staying healthy, by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and by getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.