Soy Safe and Protective After Breast Cancer

As I was reading the paper the other day, I spotted an article that immediately drew my attention. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. It pertains to a new study about soy consumption and breast cancer.

As a breast cancer survivor and healthy eating advocate, this question seems to continue to be pervasive among fellow medical professionals: should breast cancer survivors consume soy or avoid it? There are two schools of thought on this subject and I happen to fall into the so-called “consume soy” camp. What I have found over the years has been in support of breast cancer survivors eating soy for its many health benefits. In my opinion, it’s a terrific, healthy vegetarian protein source.

The pros and cons of soy for breast cancer patients and survivors have long been debated for many years. Current research involving breast cancer survivors found that those who ate the most soy had a lower risk of dying from all causes during a nearly 10-year period.

“We didn’t find any harmful effects of women diagnosed with breast cancer consuming soy in terms of mortality,” said Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, study leader and an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Researchers found overall consuming higher levels of soy is associated with a 21 percent reduction in the risk of death compared to women who consumed soy at a lower level.

Dr. Omer Kucuk, a professor of medical oncology and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta said this study should settle the debate once and for all. He also wrote an editorial accompanying the study, published online in the journal Cancer.

Kucuk said the study’s large population is one point in its favor and the new study’s findings also echo the results of a prior study that found higher soy consumption lowered the odds of breast cancer returning.