Soy & Breast Cancer

I frequently get asked by women in my classes about the safety of eating soy foods, especially if they’ve had estrogen and progesterone receptor positive breast cancer. The latest information, according to an article published in November of 2012 by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), makes clear that soy is safe to eat. The article explains that previous concerns around soy and breast cancer risk stem from the isoflavones present in soy foods which in some ways mimic the action of estrogen. As we know, high blood levels of estrogen are linked to breast cancer risk. However, the article emphasizes that the point we need to keep in mind is that the initial fears and concerns about soy were generated from studies that were done on laboratory rodents. Scientists now know that rodent and other laboratory animals metabolize soy isoflavones differently than humans and soy does not lead to increased estrogen levels in humans.

AICR points out in the article that six recent human studies and one major-meta analysis found that consuming moderate amounts (1-2 daily servings) does not increase a breast cancer survivor’s risk of recurrence or death. In fact some preliminary human studies suggest that soy foods may be most protective among breast cancer survivors who are taking Tamoxifen. The investigation on this research is ongoing however.

Some of you may be breathing a sigh of relief right now just as I did. It was so reassuring to know that I could feel comfortable consuming moderate amounts of soy products without worry. That being said, I’d like to follow up with what I would recommend as the best soy products to choose because they’re not all created equal.

Because soy is grown abundantly here in the United States and is chemically manipulated and loaded with pesticides, I would highly suggest that you consume organic – non GMO soy products only. Your best choices are fermented forms of soy (which makes them easier to digest), and include, Tempeh, Miso, Natto and soy sauce. Next in line would be sprouted organic Tofu.

On the other hand, I suggest that you limit your consumption of soy milk and soy based faux dairy products like yogurt, cream cheese and sour cream. Additionally, I highly recommend that you stay away from soy based faux meats mostly because they’re highly processed, refined and frequently contain texturized vegetable protein or TVP. TVP is made from soy protein concentrates and soy protein isolates and in order to isolate these soy proteins they must be processed in such a way that uses techniques and chemicals that are unhealthful. Soy protein isolates and concentrates are also regularly found in many “Health Food Snack Bars” so please read your food labels and put it back on the shelf if it has these ingredients.

This month I’ve included a recipe for a very easy mock chicken salad that’s made with tempeh. It can be used as a sandwich spread, a topping for a green salad or as a spread on whole grain crackers. It’s become one of my staples when I need to pack a lunch to go. I hope you try it!

With love and blessings, Diane



photo credit: mc559 via photopin cc