We all know women who have or have had breast cancer and survived. In the soyfoods industry there has always been a question about if women at risk or survivors should eat soyfoods. I have asked Mark Messina, Ph.D. nutrition research expert, to write about the latest research and findings on this subject. And it is good news, please check it out here!
Archives for March 2011
Studies suggest that soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol, and in 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soyfoods and heart disease based on this effect. Soyfoods are also low in saturated fat making them a good choice in heart healthy diets. But elevated cholesterol is just one of several risk factors for coronary heart disease. An equally if not more important one is elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure affects about 74 million Americans or about one in three adults, and the drugs available to treat this condition aren’t nearly as effective as the drugs used to treat elevated cholesterol.
Two groups of researchers recently conducted evaluations of studies on the effects of soyfoods on blood pressure. They each conducted a meta-analysis, a commonly used statistical approach that combines a large number of studies for the purpose of integrating the findings. In the first analysis, Chinese researchers analyzed the results from 11 studies and found that soy lowered systolic blood pressure by 2.5 points and diastolic blood pressure by 1.5 points. The second analysis included 27 different studies and showed similar results. Soy lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 2.2 and 1.4 points, respectively. Although these reductions may seem small, they are meaningful. It is estimated that decreases of this magnitude can lower risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and mortality by 10, 5, and 4%, respectively. When combined with the other coronary benefits of soyfoods, it is clear that adding soyfoods to your diet is a good way to protect yourself against cardiovascular disease.
Liu XX, Li SH, Chen JZ, Sun K, Wang XJ, Wang XG, Hui RT. Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011.
Dong JY, Tong X, Wu ZW, Xun PC, He K, Qin LQ. Effect of soya protein on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br. J. Nutr. 2011, 1-10.
Early interest in health benefits of soy focused on the theory that these foods could reduce breast cancer risk. Research conducted over the past 20 years lends support to this hypothesis but with a twist. Most evidence suggests that soy protects against breast cancer only if it is consumed early in life—that is, during childhood and/or adolescence. For young girls who eat soyfoods, as little as one serving per day could reduce lifelong risk of getting breast cancer.
Despite these findings, there continues to be concern about the safety of soyfoods for women who have breast cancer or are at high risk for this disease. The safety questions are based on research showing that soy isoflavones—compounds that are essentially unique to soyfoods—stimulate estrogen-sensitive breast tumors in mice. Isoflavones are classified as phytoestrogens or plant estrogens. And, since greater lifelong exposure to the hormone estrogen may increase breast cancer risk, there have been questions about whether isoflavones have the same effect.
However, the most recent study to examine this issue shows that soyfoods may actually be beneficial for women with breast cancer. The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study included approximately 3000 California women with breast cancer, 85% of whom were Caucasian. The researchers who conducted this study were from Kaiser Permanente, The Moores Cancer Center, University of California, the Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine and the Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona. In the seven years following their diagnosis, 448 women experienced a cancer recurrence and 271 women died (81% of the deaths were due to breast cancer). The investigators collected information about dietary habits of the subjects two years following their initial diagnosis.
Women who had an average daily intake of 26 milligrams of isoflavones (the amount in approximately one serving of soyfoods such as a cup of soymilk) were 54% less likely to have died. Of the women in the study who were taking the breast cancer drug tamoxifen (used to treat estrogen sensitive tumors) a high intake of soyfoods reduced mortality by 74 percent. Previous studies in Chinese and American women have shown similar results, leading the researchers of this study to conclude that there is no need for doctors to advise against soy consumption for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Soy Food Consumption and Breast Cancer Prognosis. Bette J. Caan1, Loki Natarajan2, Barbara Parker, Ellen B. Gold, Cynthia Thomson, Vicky Newman, Cheryl L. Rock, Minya Pu, Wael Al-Delaimy, and John P Pierce. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 2011
Go Green with St. Patrick’s Day Edamame Recipes
Ankeny, Iowa—Go edamame green this St. Patrick’s Day with colorful appetizer recipes that start with frozen shelled edamame. The Soyfoods Council offers a collection of dips, snacks and beer-friendly ideas that provide a more healthful way to celebrate the day. Edamame-based recipes add color, texture, flavor and cholesterol-free protein to your party foods. What your guest will remember, though, is that you offered great party food with a splash of St. Patrick’s Day green.
Dips such as hummus and guacamole are ideal accompaniments for chips and fresh vegetables. Add a little green to your St. Patrick’s Day celebration by serving Jade Hummus with Pita Crisps. Just right for sharing, the appetizer combines frozen, blanched shelled edamame flavored with cumin, coriander seeds, garlic, tahini, fresh lemon juice and parsley….