Q & A- Does Soy Cause Breast Cancer?

 October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I thought this is the right time to get the right answer to this question.   For almost as long as I can remember, nuritionists have urged us to  replace red meat with soy.  In  China  its  called the meat without bones and its nutritional profile- high in protein yet  low in  cholesterol-  certainly seemed to justify its place in the good food hall of fame. 

But within recent years there  have  been concerns that the estrogen-like compounds in soy, called phytoestrogens, can trigger estrogen receptors in the breast and  increase risk of breast cancer.    There have  been  a  number of dueling studies, some  finding an increased incidence  of cancer while others that say it actually can lower risk.  These dueling  yes  it does no its doesn’t  studies may be entertaining for researchers, but  for women who are trying to stay healthy, the back and forthing is well, upseting.

At this point in time  ( and it could change with the next study) doctors generally advise that  soy in moderate amounts will not cause problems in a well rounded diet.  But its not that easy.

Soy is so widely used  and in so  many forms its hard to judge how much soy  you are actually eating everyday.  In addition  to the obvious soy sauce and tofu, soy in the form of flour is added to commercial breads, crackers, cookies, even frozen prepared meals.  Soy milk lates are a standard at Starbucks  and whole shelves at Whole Foods are devoted to soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy pepperoni, soy mayonaise and veggie burgers.  Soy is routinely  used in Kosher food products and don’t forget soy ice creams  like Tofutti.

The multiple food uses of soy can lead  to  troubling levels of daily  soy intake.  For me the takeaway  is to monitor  how much soy I am actually eating/using.  I read packges of  bread and crackers, switched  to almond milk lattes and limit my beloved edameme  to a once a week treat. And  I still use my favorite soy entiched moisturizer where it acts  as an antioxidant and reduced inflammation.

Are you concerned about soy?  Have you changed your eating habits to reduce soy exposure?

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