For many people that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, they often rely on meat and animal product substitutes made from soy. These can take the form of soy milk, soy cheese, soy meat, tofu, and tempeh. With all these versatile options, its easy to see why people who don’t eat meat or animal products would be all about soy.
But recently, some doubt has crept in. Soy contains isoflavones, which are plant compounds that mimic the effect of human estrogen. Using this information, the media began running reports of the dangers of soy, saying that soy could increase the risk of breast cancer and even cause feminization in men. Not surprisingly, these reports were met with considerable concern. But WebMD says that these claims about the health risks of soy are unfounded. In fact, though its always best to consult with your doctor, The American Cancer Society has said that patients suffering from breast cancer can safely eat three servings of soy food daily. Finally, there has been no evidence to indicate that soy could have feminizing effects on men.
All About Soy: The Facts
The American Cancer Society says that studies regarding the effects of soy beans on breast cancer have produced mixed results. Some studies in laboratory animals have suggested that soy may reduce the risk of not only breast cancer, but also cancer of the prostate, ovaries, and uterus. Additionally, studies of large groups of women have found that those who eat more soy had a lower risk of breast and endometrial cancer. These findings could be based on other causes, however. Soy can also reduce blood pressure and even lower cholesterol.
On the other side of the coin, though some researchers believe that soy’s estrogenic properties slow down the growth of breast cancer, concern was raised after it was discovered that post-menopausal estrogen replacement raises breast cancer risk. Using this information, some researchers believed that soy’s estrogen stimulation could have the same effect.
Though more research needs to be done, most doctors would agree that the benefits of soybeans outweigh any speculated health risks of soy. However, it is always best to talk to your doctor.
- “Soybean”, American Cancer Society
- “Is soy linked to breast cancer?”, CNN Health
- “Four Soy Myths Exposed”, WebMD
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