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The Soyfoods Council
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Research Suggests Soy Consumption Protects Against Prostate Cancer
Ankeny, Iowa, January 23, 2018—New research offers a possible explanation for why prostate cancer rates in soyfood-consuming countries in Asia are so low compared with rates in Western countries. According to this research, it is because Asian men regularly consume soyfoods. This subject has been rigorously investigated since the U.S. National Cancer Institute first began exploring the role of soy in cancer prevention 30 years ago.
For this new research, a team of University of Illinois researchers analyzed the results of 30 observational or epidemiologic studies to better understand the relationship between soy and prostate cancer. Observational studies examine how exposure to a particular factor, such as soy, among a given population affects the risk of developing a particular outcome, such as prostate cancer. When all studies were included in the analysis, men who consumed the most soy were 29% less likely to develop prostate cancer than were men who infrequently consumed soy. Results in Asian and North American studies were similar. However, the results did differ according to the type of soyfoods consumed. Consuming unfermented soyfoods—such as tofu and soymilk—was very protective, while fermented soyfoods, such as miso, were not found to have protective effects. Just why fermented soyfoods weren’t protective isn’t clear.
Soyfoods appear to lower risk of developing prostate cancer because they contain high amounts of naturally occurring compounds called isoflavones. In Asian studies, results showed that intake of the two primary isoflavones in soybeans—genistein and daidzein—was inversely related to risk. That is, the more isoflavones were consumed, the less likely men were to develop prostate cancer. It is unclear why isoflavones in soy are protective, but it is not because they lower testosterone levels. Studies clearly show that consuming even very high amounts of isoflavone-rich soy does not lower blood testosterone levels.
In Asian studies, men in the highest intake group consumed about two servings of soyfoods per day. One cup of soymilk, a half-cup of tofu and an ounce of soynuts are each considered a single serving of soy. Americans who wish to increase their intake of soyfoods can easily do so by adding plain or vanilla soymilk to cereals, enjoying soynut snacks, or adding tofu to stir-fries or salads. One serving of soy offers approximately 7 to 15 grams of high-quality protein without the large amount of saturated fat that typically comes with animal sources of protein.
The Soyfoods Council offers a wide variety of recipe suggestions. On its website you’ll find Edamame Hummus made in a food processor with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini and seasonings. Soybean Chili is simple to make, with canned tan soybeans and black soybeans. For breakfasts or snacks, try the Berry Secret Smoothies made in a blender with frozen mixed berries, light vanilla soymilk, orange juice and fresh spinach.
For more research about the health benefits of soyfoods and recipe ideas for incorporating more soyfoods into your diet, visit the Soyfoods Council website at www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com. You’ll also find nutrition information and cooking tips.
About the Soyfoods Council: The Soyfoods Council is a non-profit organization, created and funded by Iowa soybean farmers, providing a complete resource to increase awareness of soyfoods, educate and inform media, healthcare professionals, consumers and the retail and foodservice market about the many benefits of soyfoods. Iowa is the country’s number one grower of soybeans and is the Soyfoods Capital of the world.
About the Role of Soyfoods in a Healthful Diet: Soyfoods have played an important role in Asian cuisines for centuries. In recent years they have become popular in Western countries because of their nutrition and health properties. Soyfoods are excellent sources of high-quality protein and provide a healthy mix of polyunsaturated fat. In addition, independent of their nutrient content, there is very intriguing evidence indicating soyfoods reduce risk of several chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer. All individuals are well advised to eat a couple of servings of soyfoods every day.