Breast cancer, the most common cancer among women, affects 2.1 million women each year, and is responsible for greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. Some types of breast cancers are known to be estrogen-receptor positive i.e. the hormone estrogen aids in the growth and progression of the cancer. Obstructing the activity of estrogen through inhibiting estrogen action or by decreasing estrogen production. This is an essential therapeutic modality for breast cancer prevention.
Soy foods are known as the richest source of dietary isofavones. These naturally occurring phytochemicals show significant structural analogy with 17-β-estradiol and can act as functional estrogen antagonists, which play an essential role in breast cancer prevention.
Soy and its isoflavones are gaining extensive attention due to the innumerable health benefits associated with their consumption. Females who consume adequate amounts of soy in their diet show a reduced risk of having breast cancer as compared to females who do not consume this food. Soy foods can be consumed as part of a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle. Thus, soy represents an important breast cancer prevention strategy.
Let us explore how soy helps you to prevent breast cancer:
- What is soy?
- What does soy contain?
- Health benefits of soy
- Amount of soy for health benefits
- Role of soy in breast cancer prevention
- Tips for increasing soy intake
What is soy?
Soy is a popular legume of Asian origin that belongs to the pea family.
What does soy contain?
Embedded with beneficial phytochemicals, soy represents an excellent source of high quality protein, isoflavones, lecithins, lectins, linoleic acid, peptides, phytosterols, saponins and dietary fiber. It is low in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free and lactose-free.
Health benefits of soy
Including soy in the regular diet found to has significant health benefits. It helps to lower the risk of heart disease, manage obesity, minimizes the risk of type 2 diabetes, improves cognitive function and visual memory, and aids to treat osteoporosis.
Amount of soy for health benefits
In general, 30 to 50 mg of soy isoflavones is the adequate quantity which a healthy person can consume regularly via diet to get associated potential benefits.
Let’s explore some of the soy foods that contain isoflavones:
- Soybeans (half cup)– 40 to 75 mg
- Soy drink (one 250ml glass) – 15 to 60 mg
- Soy flour (quarter cup) – 45 to 69 mg
- Tempeh (one 110g block) – 41 mg
- Tofu (one 115g block) – 13 to 43 mg
- Soy yoghurt (one container) – 26 mg
- Soy sauce (teaspoon) – 0.4 to 2.2 mg
- Soy bread (two slices) – 7 to 15 mg
Role of soy in breast cancer prevention
It can be seen through the outcomes of epidemiological and migratory studies that dietary soy intake can reduce the risk of getting breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Intake of soy foods in the childhood and adolescence is also found to have significant impact on lowering the risk of breast cancer later in life. Some of the analyses have also exhibited that soy consumption can aid in obstructing the initiation of breast cancer cells.
The cancer-preventive properties of soy and its isoflavones are:
- Capability to increase the menstrual cycle
- Reducing endogenous estrogen concentrations
- Anti-estrogenic and anti-proliferative properties
- Modifying estrogen metabolism away from carcinogenic metabolites
It is found via certain scientific studies that soy is safe and is related to lower mortality and recurrence breast cancer rates.
Numerous studies have also shown that soy can lower serum estrogen levels. This reduces the impact of endogenous estrogen availability on the progression of breast cancer. Implementing soy intervention, significant decrease in serum estrogen levels in both premenopausal and menopausal women have been viewed.
Also, the Mammographic breast density analyses found the potent anti-proliferative properties of soy isoflavones. Further, other studies supported the ability of soy to decrease estrogen production via suppressing steroidogenic enzymes, and lowering aromatase activity and mRNA aromatase expression, which hinder the with estrogen production.
Tips for increasing soy intake
To elevate the isoflavones in your body, make the following changes in your diet:
Include whole soy foods like soymilk, tofu, soy bread, and tempeh.
Make habit to explore ingredient lists to make sure the soy foods you buy are formulated of whole soy.
Make sure products fortified foods contain soy protein instead of added isoflavone.
Breast cancer is currently one of the largest epidemiological problems in women. Present scientific data shows pieces of evidences for various anticancer properties of soy and of its isoflavones. However, the specific quantities and constituents accountable for the noticed anti-cancer properties have not been evaluated as it founds that soy isoflavones do not act as an estrogen, instead shows anti-estrogenic actions.
However, soy isoflavones can be considered as a vital anti-cancer therapeutic agents. Also, it is safe for women with breast cancer. Further analyses are required to assess the long-term impacts of soy isoflavone intake on human health, including cancer risk.
Incorporate soy-based foods in your daily diet and harness the complete benefit of this miracle product !!