Soy for Breast Health?

Women who have had breast cancer have traditionally been advised to avoid soy due to fears that, like estrogen, it could promote progression or recurrence of their breast cancer. Fortunately, we now know that breast cancer survivors not only can safely consume soy, but really, they should, in order to stay healthy and cancer-free.

How can that be?

Soy is full of phytoestrogens that are both similar and dissimilar enough to our own estrogen (estradiol) to provide maximum benefit. They’re similar enough to “trick” our estrogen receptors into binding them preferentially, leaving less room for estrogen to have its breast cancer promoting effect.

Yet they’re dissimilar enough that they favor binding beta receptors, rather than alpha receptors, like estradiol. As a result, soy leads to tumor suppression in the breast, uterus and ovaries while it promotes healthy tissue growth in bone.

Turning this win-win situation for soy phytoestrogens into win-win-win is the knowledge that soy also has the power to help us fight diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Pass the edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso and soy milk, please!