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Does Eating Soy Cause Breast Cancer?

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.

Join The Conversation
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
i love me my miso too :) and my edaname. i don't eat anything else that has soy in it really.... maybe my veggie burger. still drinking my fat free milk but i do switch it up with rice milk. yum!
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 8 years
Marie-lee, I get those exact same looks for people, whether it is from other shoppers or the clerk at the checkout line. My cart usually has Morningstar burgers, Silk Soy Milk, Pom, hummus, fruits & veggies and then they look & see a package of chicken, feta cheese and some other non-vegetarian standard (like a small package of Ben & Jerry's ice cream) and they wonder "Huh? Well, that doesn't make sense!" :rotfl:
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 8 years
I do not go crazy with soy however I believe red meat will cause quicker and worse harm to your body. Unlike soy which they THINK could cause cancer, it has been proven that red meat increases your risk of developing breast (and other forms of) cancer. I also do not drink milk. Aside from the fact my stomach cannot tolerate it, the milk being sold isn't clean. The sellers use chemicals and hormones. Why would I want to drink a 8.oz glass of chemical sh*t? That surely cannot be healthy for your system. Also, look at what they do to the animals in the food & milk industry. All you have to do is go to PETA's site and discover that truth; though all of this should be common knowledge to people. The one's producing milk and meat will say and claim anything to make sure business continues because of how much money those products bring in yearly. The government and businesses do not want to risk the public finding out just what their digesting. I am not a full vegetarian, I do eat chicken and some dairy products however those items are choosen carefully and because at this moment, my system needs some of those foods. However milk, pork, red meat, Jello (just read about the gelatin used in there. Sick.) and a few other items are off limits. Same for most canned items because of BPA. I know this comment is quite long however it is topic that I believe in. :smile:
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
I am glad I don't have to give up my tofu or miso paste. I don't have many soy products but I think I'd miss my tofu if I couldn't eat it. As someone who isn't a vegetarian I do get some strange looks when someone sees white miso paste, tofu, bacon and chicken all in the same trolley!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that if you eat just about anything in moderation that you'll find that you'll be ok. there are so many studies out there that give you the impression that eating almost any food will lead to some disease and that's not necessarily a good thing. we all get scared by the reports that we hear, so i think that you should just keep things all in perspective and be reasonable about what you eat.
chameleon7 chameleon7 8 years
lkandy, I have read it and have seen it mention in quite a few places. I read that if you eat too much of it, you can become allergic. Some people just may be sensitive to it to begin with.
Ikandy Ikandy 8 years
@chameleon7; I became allergic to soy 3 years ago...I was wondering where you got that information, cause I have NO idea why I developed such a strong sensitivity to soy.
berrypeachie berrypeachie 8 years
I love edamame, and if I ever had to give it up. I would never! I used to drink soy milk a lot more than I ever did regular milk, because I had some gassy problems with regular milk. Now I am on and off. I drink soy milk sometimes for the health benefits, and sometimes regular milk cause its delicious. I usually try to buy organic milk since it "says" it doesn't have hormones and such in it. :]
deanna024 deanna024 8 years
See, this is why people are so confused about foods relative to disease! You hear soy helps prevent some cancers; now, they say it causes others. It's the same way with other foods -- oh, it prevents this cancer. But wait, it causes this one! I started having problems with dairy milk and switched to soy. I love it and I do not have the same stomach problems! I also was deterred from cow's milk after hearing about all the hormones and chemicals in the milk. I even read something about how people think acne is caused by the chemicals in the cow's milk we drink. I agree with some of the links posted that processed soy is worse when it comes to causing gas. I used to eat a lot of those commercialized veggie burgers for lunch and had horrible gas. I switch back to just eating bean or soy in their purer forms, and it's much improved. Something to note: Nowhere in the write-up of the study does it say what a "high" amount of soy is. The researchers do not clearly define what a "high" amount of soy is for the women to consume in the study. Until I see an actual definition, I'm holding off judgment.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I heard that fermented soy is best. And also even the healthiest food can be bad for a person if they have too much. I know I have no intention of going back to dairy milk.
rumpel2 rumpel2 8 years
Dr. Rebecca Booth, in her book "The Venus Week", says that only women who have been diagonosed with estrogen induced breast cancer should avoid Soy products, the rest of us are fine eating it in moderation. This book is a must read for all women to understand their cycle and more.
chameleon7 chameleon7 8 years
I have read recently that soy doesn't do what they say it claims to do. It is no longer a superfood. People can also become allergic to soy easily.
michlny michlny 8 years
Also, it's important to have non-GMO soy and to try and eat fermented soy (i.e., tempeh). Of course, too much of anything is never a great idea.
julie090583 julie090583 8 years
I firmly believe that soy milk or a veggie burger is hands down the better, healthier option than cow's milk or a hamburger. As with everything, processed soy products should not be consumed in excessive amounts. There is still research that needs to be done, but a person's risk of getting breast cancer is also influenced by their consumption of dairy. We are drinking milk from pregnant cows- talk about exposure to estrogen, not to mention antibiotics. Think about it; no other species consumes milk as adults (especially not that of another species!) I'm not trying to attack those who consume it, but just asking that you apply the same logic to those foods as is being applied to soy. Shouldn't we look at both of these foods with the same lens? More research needs to be done on both.
gabiushka gabiushka 8 years
Actually I understand that soy should only be eaten when fermented. More info on that on from naturalist doctor mercola.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
That's a great quote BuchaBaby!
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
Too true, BuchaBaby! I used to consume some soy milk with breakfast every day. My stomach started getting very upset after lunch. I tried very hard to pinpoint what it was that was giving me agony and remove it from my diet. I finally got to soy. Bingo! So I gave up having soy everyday and just have it about once a month when eating out. For more info on soy and gas, see this link: I'll stick with fruits, veggies, tea, and an active lifestyle to help me ward off cancer.
BuchaBaby BuchaBaby 8 years
Paracelsus (a chemist in the dark ages) once said: The dose makes the poison. So you should eat everything in moderation I would personally say and recommend
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