Wellness Wednesday: How Much Soy Is Safe To Eat

 Soy foods contain plant estrogens and some gynos advise caution when telling their breast cancer surviving patients that they are harmless as we usually avoid systemic estrogen therapy in cancer survivors.. Caution against soy cooking for breast cancer survivors was mostly based on theory and no proof that it was safe.  Soy intake consistent with that of a traditional Japanese diet (2-3 servings daily, containing 25-50mg isoflavones)  is really a low level of plant estrogens. The average vegetarian diet may consume a lot more, and we have set a cautionary guideline as no more than 100 mg of isoflavones daily. Recent analysis of over 40 research trials having over 40000 patients even show that because soy in human trials doesn't seem to affect circulating estrogens, and doesn't change the estrogen receptivity of tissues soy may even be protective against breast cancer and recurrence. Actually one study looked at breast cancer survivors, and perhaps there is actually benefits to incorporating both a vegetarian diet, and one with higher soy consumption according to Bette Caan, PhD, a senior research scientist who specializes in nutritional epidemiology at the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Annual Research Conference 2011 on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer . The American Cancer Society (ACS) according to a story reported in Medscape today " is in the process of rewording its guidelines. The old ones said that up to 3 servings of traditional soy foods per day are unlikely to be harmful. According to Dr. Caan, those guidelines may be revised to state that women with breast cancer can eat moderate amounts of soy foods. "She added 1 caveat: to avoid concentrated sources of soy, such as pills, powders, or supplements containing high amounts of isoflavones, because data are lacking on the risks and benefits. "We still need to proceed with caution," she said" in that same article. Many new articles warn about supplements in general. We also tell our patients to come in to discuss options for reducing breast cancer risk: for instance weight loss, and consideration of  preventative therapies prior to breast cancer diagnosis Evista, Tamoxifen therapy, and discussing any hormonal therapy they may be considering. Soy foods are healthy for the heart, so if you are going to modify your soy intake there are other ways to eat heart healthy!


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