There is so much controversy over soy and its implications as a food source rich in phyto-estrogens. Even the experts disagree as to whether it is a safe food to consume for the general population, much less women concerned about breast cancer.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 9, 2009) brings this ancient food back to grace and acceptance. Here’s the full study.
The Shaghai Breast Cancer Survival Study is the largest population-based study of breast cancer survival to date and was specifically designed to evaluate the influence of soy food intake on breast cancer outcomes. This cohort study involved 5,042 female breast cancer survivors in China between the ages of 20 and 75, whose diagnoses were between March 2002 and April 2006. Data, including cancer diagnosis, treatment, lifestyle exposure and disease progression post diagnosis, was collected at 6 month post diagnosis and then reassessed at follow-up interviews of 18, 36 and 60 month intervals post diagnosis.
The conclusion of this study was that among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and decreased recurrence of breast cancer.
Soy consumption has been increasing in American since 1997 from 15% up to 28% (2003), despite the conflicting information available (The National Report on Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition 2004–2005.) In the study, soy intake of over 11 mg. day of soy protein saw no additional benefit on lower mortality and recurrence with higher intakes of soy food. This suggests that moderate soy intake is safe and potentially beneficial for women with breast cancer.
The Eastern World population consumes soy as tofu, miso, tempeh and edamame beans. We Westerners consume soy as products with concentrated soy protein isolates in our powder drinks and energy bars. We purchase overly processed soy in convenient products that look and taste like meat. The process of removing the soy protein from the soy bean involves a chemical process using a known carcinogen, hexane. According to a report by the Cornucopia Institute, hexane is used to extract oil from grains as well as protein from soy, to such an extent that in 2007, grain processors were responsible for more than two-thirds of hexane emissions in the United States (National Center for Environmental Research, Retrieved 25 May 2007).
A recent article in the New York Daily News, Sept 24, 2010 has exposed the dangers and prevalence of hexane. The Environmental Protection Agency calls it the “dirty little secret” of the natural soy foods industry. Most non-organic veggie burgers and other meat-like soy food products contain hexane, as well as the energy bars, protein powders and other soy food products. Products labeled organic are forbidden from using the hexane, but foods less than 100% organic may contain this chemical, a neurotoxin made from a petroleum by-product of gasoline refining.
It is not the soy food in its natural state that is evil. It is not the phyto estrogens from this natural plant based food that is risky business. It is the xeno-estrogens from the chemicals, herbicides and pesticides that far exceed the risk factor beyond what a natural food that has been around for centuries can do to us. Food is meant to be eaten in its natural state, close to the way it is found in nature. Local, fresh, organic, unprocessed foods, full of life-giving nutrients to fuel our bodies can bring health and vitality to every cell.
If you choose to eat soy:
1. Be certain that it is made from non-GMO soy beans (genetically modified).
2. Be sure it is 100% organic.
3. Read the label so it does not contain ―soy protein isolates‖ — a result of hexane.
4. Choose soy foods in their natural state like tofu, tempeh, miso, and edamame beans.
By Jeanie Redick, CN Sept 24, 2010