You may have heard that you shouldn’t eat soy if you’re at risk for it breast cancer. But then you see headlines saying it can protect against disease. So what is the truth?
Even for health-conscious people, telling truth from fiction can be challenging.
Knowing the real deal is important, especially now that soybeans are more common in the American diet. Besides its traditional forms of edamame, tofu, tempeh, and miso, soybeans are also a popular low-fat source. protein. It’s in soy milk and meat substitutes pillsbaked goods, energy bars, and more.
Should you avoid these foods or eat more of them? The simplest answer is to think of “the whole” – as in, as close to nature as possible – so you don’t get too much.
For more clarity, get the truth behind these 5 common myths.
1. Myth: All soy foods increase the risk of breast cancer.
There is no need to exclude tofu and edamame from your diet.
“For years, soy has a bad reputation for isoflavones,” says Marilyn Myers, MD, director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center Survival Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.
These phytochemicals are similar in structure estrogen. Most chest Cancers are estrogen sensitive (or, as doctors say, “estrogen receptor positive” or “ER positive”) which means estrogen fuels their growth.
So there was a fear that soybeans act as estrogen in the body and stimulate cancer Myers says. “It was posted on blogs, and people were telling each other to avoid soy.”
But a steady stream of studies has shown that a diet rich in soy does not increase your chances of developing breast cancer It may even reduce this risk.
In one study of more than 73,000 Chinese women, researchers found that those who ate at least 13 grams of soy protein Per day, roughly one to two servings had an 11% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who ate less than 5 grams.
“In Asian cultures, where people eat a lot of soy at a young age, there are lower rates of breast cancer,” Myers says. And in those societies, people still eat soybeans in their traditional forms.
Meanwhile, another analysis of eight studies showed that those who got the most soy isoflavones — about the amount in a serving of tofu — were 29% less likely to get sick than those who got the least.
“As part of a healthy diet, whole soy foods are safe,” says Denise Millstine, Director of integrative medicine At the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
2. Myth: All types of soy have the same effect on the body.
Your body may process the natural soybeans in tofu, miso, and soy milk differently than the kind that is added to processed foods.
soybean protein The isolates found in nutritional supplements, protein powders, and meat substitutes are usually stripped of nutrients, such as fiber.
“It’s also a more concentrated form of soy,” Milstein says. “So you are more likely to get a higher dose if you take protein shake And more soy hot dogs than if you were eating edamame.”
Researchers are not sure how large amounts of soybeans will affect chest Cancer risk. In one early study, soy supplementation was shown to “turn on” the genes that encourage this cancer The growth of women with early-stage breast cancer.
Experts recommend sticking to a moderate amount, or about one to two servings, of whole soybeans per day. One serving includes:
- ½ cup cooked edamame
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 ounce of soybeans
- 3 ounces of tofu
3. Myth: Eat soy to prevent breast cancer.
While eating a moderate amount of soy is fine, it’s too early to suggest eating more to protect your breasts.
“The results are promising, but there isn’t enough information yet,” Myers says. Experts now believe that soy isoflavones may prevent estrogen from attaching to breast cancer cells instead of stimulating growth as previously thought.
Myers notes that many of the distinctive studies are done in Asian countries, where people grow up eating soy in its traditional forms. “It may affect the way their bodies process soy,” she says. “We need to know if eating soy later in life has the same effect.”
More research should also be done on how much soy you get at different ages. “Soy may have a greater impact on postmenopausal women who don’t produce as much estrogen as any healthy 20-year-old,” Milstein says.
4. Myth: If you have or have had breast cancer, avoid all soy foods.
Just as eating a moderate amount of whole soybeans does not increase the risk of breast cancer, it does not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
“Still, I recommend breast cancer patients avoid soy supplements,” Milstein says.
In one report, researchers analyzed data from diet surveys completed by more than 9,500 American and Chinese women. Those who said they ate the most soy were 25% less likely to return to cancer than those who were least fortunate.
Some experts worry that soy might interfere with breast cancer drugs that lower estrogen levels, such as Tamoxifen. But the same study showed that soy also protected against recurrence in patients who took tamoxifen.
The soy foods included in the study were tofu, soy milk, and fresh soybeans. As you might expect, Chinese women eat significantly more of it than those in the United States, and the results still stood when researchers considered this fact.
5. Myth: Soy only affects estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
While it’s true that soy isoflavones play a greater role in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers, early research links it to a lower risk of other diseases. Breast cancer types.
This finding comes from a study of 756 Chinese women with breast cancer and about 1,000 other women who did not have the disease. All of the women answered questions about their diets, including how much soy they ate. Those who said they ate more soy were less likely to develop any type of breast cancer, compared to those who ate less.
This finding does not prove that soy prevents breast cancer in any of the women. Other things can be shared.
“More research still needs to be done,” Myers says. “People who eat more soy can have healthier lifestyles in general.”
Stay tuned to see if it helps across the board, whether you eat tofu regularly, pour soy milk over your breakfast cereal, or Snack on edamame.