I've written a good bit in the past about soy and breast cancer. I believe soy can be helpful in helping you fight breast cancer and even avoiding it in the first place. You just have to choose the right kind of soy products. Now, research published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment is providing further evidence of the benefits of soy. Turns out, eating the right diet can offer benefits even after you've completed treatment for breast cancer.
This study, conducted by researchers at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, investigated the diets of 173 non-Hispanic white women and 192 Chinese-American women. Because breast cancer treatments often have to target the body's production and use of estrogen, which can fuel the cancer, the side effects of such treatments can linger for years. The researchers were hoping to determine whether dietary factors could help minimize some of these effects, which can include fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats, and menopause-like symptoms.
The researchers found that consuming high levels of cruciferous vegetables and soy helped the women experience fewer menopausal symptoms. More soy also helped to lower levels of fatigue.
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Interestingly, the results were most significant for the white women participating in the study. However, Chinese women in general typically consume many more cruciferous vegetables and more soy than their white counterparts — and they report fewer menopausal symptoms. So the diet and symptoms are likely related for everyone. The Chinese women seemed to have a head start on these healthy choices, limiting how dramatic their results would be.
The researchers also found hints that could indicate soy helps with joint problems, hair loss, and memory issues in these women. However, the results were not statistically significant, so they need to do more research.
The researchers believe that the isoflavones in soy and the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables may affect how the body produces estrogen and deals with inflammation. By boosting estrogen levels even slightly, these foods help the body be better equipped to deal with the challenges the aftermath of breast cancer treatment can bring.
I'm glad to see more research supporting the consumption of soy foods (and cruciferous vegetables). That's because there's so much false information out there on the supposedly harmful effects of soy. Be assured that you cannot believe everything on the Internet. And the data on the healthy aspects of soy is voluminous. That's why I put a good healthy dose of it in my Super Immune QuickStart. However, you need to be sure that the soy you're eating isn't GMO soy, which is definitely not a healthy product.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD