Soy does not cause cancer.
Some people conjectured that because soy contains phytoestrogens that resemble estrogen chemically, that they would act in the same way as estrogen. Since most breast cancers are sensitive to estrogen, some unhelpful headlines were splashed about before the research was properly conducted. Since then, however, there has been much research and the results show that, far from causing cancer, soy can actually protect against it.
The low rates of breast and prostate cancers in Asian countries, where soy is consumed in greater quantities than in the US, have led scientists to investigate the role of soy foods on cancer, with a particular focus on breast and prostate cancer. Evidence shows that consumption of soy is associated with a 20-30 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer.1 And it has also shown that consuming soy can help slow down the rate of prostate cancer if it has already taken hold.2
Research also shows that women who consume more soy suffer fewer breast and uterine cancers. One study found that women who have just one cup of soy milk per day (or half a cup of tofu) have 30 percent less risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who have little or no soy.3 Since breast tissue forms in adolescence, the sooner we start eating soy the better, but it is also never too late. The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study found that women who had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer would do well to eat soy products as those who consumed the most soy cut their risk of cancer recurrence or mortality in half.4
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