Does Soy Really Increase The Risk of Breast Cancer?

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Show Notes:

1.35 min          Check ups and mammograms.
3.30 min          Risks factors for Breast Cancer.
7.36 min          Soy and risk for Breast Cancer.
15.15 min        Alcohol and Breast Cancer risk.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, making it a great opportunity to recap and learn ways to reduce the risk.

What are the risk factors for Breast Cancer?

A family history of breast cancer, especially direct relatives, along with a genetic predisposition can increase the risk of breast cancer. Individuals who are aware of their family history should have regular check ups and reduce other factors that can contribute to the cancer.

A healthy balanced diet high in fiber from various sources may help reduce the risk due to its antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. There is research to suggest that high levels of carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables may be linked to lower incidence of breast cancer.

Alcohol consumption is also a risk factor not only for breast cancer alone. Data compiled by the American Cancer Society have confirmed that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer by 7-10% and those drinking excessive amounts daily can increase their risk by 20%. Therefore is is safe to say that alcohol consumption should be kept at a moderate amount.

So although these advises may seem redundant, but it is a great reminder of its benefits. Many healthcare professionals will emphasize physical activity because in terms of breast cancer alone, women who get regular physical activity will less likely get breast cancer by 10-20% compared to those more sedentary.

Physical activity does not always mean an expensive gym membership, but it can mean housework, walking the dog, or gardening, just as long as we’re moving around. Weight gain to an unhealthy weight range, or even obesity, can lead to many healthy problems. As for the case of breast cancer, weight gain can increase the risk especially in post menopausal women.

Does Soy increase the risk of breast cancer?

Many studies have been done on soy and its association to reduce breast cancer.The original observation may be that historically, Asian cultures’ diet is high in soy and the incidence of breast cancer is also lower in the Asian community. A recent meta-analysis, meaning an analysis of many studies combined, have concluded that there is a link between soy and lower rates of breast cancer in Asian women but not for western women.

Isoflavone is the compound at question found in soy. It is namely a phytoestrogen, meaning it acts as a weak version of human estrogen. This compound may be linked to estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, but seems to lower the risk for other types of breast cancer.

The advise is still to moderately eat soy in the form of whole foods. So an occasional tofu stir fry or a soy latte shouldn’t hurt. Soy is still a great source of complete protein and fiber.

As a final note, a healthy diet and regular exercise is a simple advise but still the most powerful act to keep us happy and disease-free.

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