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Does soy prevent cancer?

Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Some people seem to think soy can cause cancer. The fact is soy contains 'phytoestrogens'. These are plant chemicals that act like a very weak estrogen molecule (which is how tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug, works as well). These weak estrogens actually block the more aggressive, cancer-causing estrogens - as such, they lower the effect of cancer-causing estrogens. Additionally, soy isoflavones also help shut off genes that can cause cancer by acting as a methylator. Methylators help donate molecular groups which can lock up cancer genes so they are not expressed.

One nested case-controlled study looked at over 24,000 Japanese women and found that those with the highest soy isoflavone level had the lowest cancer rates. Breast cancer in Western countries is much higher than Asia - where isoflavone level is about 0.5% of that in the Asian countries. When consumed in very large amounts, soy may block thyroid, inhibit mineral absorption, or even become allergenic, but eaten in reasonable amounts, this is not typical.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.