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Soy and Breast Cancer

This is a question asked by several patients on a daily basis. The questions are in various forms: “Is soy okay to eat if I have a family history of breast cancer?” “Should I avoid soy if I previously had breast cancer?” “Does soy cause breast cancer?”

This has been a topic of much debate for the past several years. Luckily, new research is providing clarity.
Recent studies actually indicate that soy foods actually decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Naturopathic oncologist Dr Tina Kaczor states: “As the following studies show, evidence suggests there is no increased risk of recurrence for any subpopulations of breast cancer survivors (eg, pre- or postmenopausal, estrogen receptor positive or negative, those on or off hormonal treatments). Further, soy consumption lessened risk of all-cause mortality with increasing levels of consumption.”

In addition, it is important to note that soy increases the actvity of tamoxifen (i.e., its effectiveness) in post menopausal women.

1-2 servings of soy is the recommended daily dose. Traditional soy foods, employed for thousands of years in Asian diets are a good source. These are:  tempeh or edamame. Avoid processed and/or hydrolyzed soy proteins as found in protein bars or meal replacements. Organic soy milk is also a good option.
As always, I encourage all my patients to buy organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) soy.

Digestion plays a major role in the metabolism of soy and can actually affect whether soy is beneficial or harmful.  Having beneifical flora promotes healthy metabolism of the food. Hormones are excreted and metabolized in the GI tract therefore, ensuring regular bowel movements acts as a good means to prevent and manage breast cancer. I typically always recommend ground flax seeds to bind excess hormones, promote GI motility (to excrete these hormones through the stool) and in addition, provide beneficial fatty acids.
As always, proper cancer prevention and management is a whole body/person approach. The correlation between soy and cancer is one area of which to be aware. Be well.