Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancers that affect people all over the globe. While most of those who have it are women, some men suffer from this type of cancer as well. It is also one of the deadliest types, accounting for 18.2 percent of cancer deaths worldwide, regardless of gender. In the USA alone, 39,620 breast cancer deaths are reported annually.
These alarming statistics have made people from various parts of the world be more careful than ever with what and how they eat. One of the food sources that have a contentious reputation in the cancer research community is soy beans. While soy beans are great protein-rich food, other nutrients present in them have been debated to be linked to breast cancer. One such study, made by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, argues that consuming soy beans actually has both positive and negative effects.
Results of the Study
Soy’s high isoflavone content (especially the most active one, genistein) has been found by the researchers to have a particular effect on breast cancer. If someone has been consuming soy beans for a long time, way before the breast cancer is diagnosed, then the efficiency of the breast cancer medication Tamoxifen tangibly improves. However, when the patient only started eating or drinking soy-based foods when the breast cancer was already diagnosed, it can have the opposite effect on Tamoxifen, reining its effectiveness.
According to the study, this is the reason why women in Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China, where soy consumption is much higher, are five times less likely to have breast cancer than women in the Western countries.
Different Research in the Past
A different study made by researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College in 2014 suggests a different thing. According to the research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, adding soy to the diet can activate genes in the body that have been linked to the growth of cancer cells. So far, the disparity continues the debate on the effects of soy consumption, and medical experts agree that farther research is needed to gain more reliable data.
In conclusion, according to the more recent study, long time soy consumption makes the chances of breast cancer prevention and/or the recovery prognosis better. However, eating soy-based foods on the onset of breast cancer can instead make the body more resistant to the effects of some anti-cancer drugs such as Tamoxifen.