Soy gets a strange rap in this country. Meat and potato lovers tend to dismiss it as vegan fringe food. But ever since soy milk muscled its way into the mainstream dairy aisle, there's been a lot of talk about its potential health effects — good and bad.
Dig in! Soy's been given a thumbs up, even for breast cancer survivors.
Dig in! Soy's been given a thumbs up, even for breast cancer survivors. iStockphoto.com
In the past, scientists have raised concerns about soy consumption for breast cancer survivors, suggesting a link between the frequently-prescribed drug tamoxifen and the estrogen-mimicking proteins found in soy.
But now researchers are giving soy a "thumbs up" for this group. In fact, a new study shows it might even be good for them.
The study looked at 5,000 Chinese breast cancer survivors and found that women who consumed the most soy did better — at least in the four years following diagnosis and treatment.
Their cancer recurrence rate was 32 percent lower than women who didn't regularly consume soy. And their risk of death was 29 percent lower. A recent study of about 2,000 breast cancer survivors in northern California had similar findings.
"These studies suggest that it seems to be safe to consume soy foods," says Rachel Ballard-Barbash of the National Cancer Institute. Ballard-Barbash wrote an editorial to accompany the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.
But just how much soy is protective? In the study of women in China, the beneficial effect maxed out at about 11grams of soy protein per day. That's about two glasses of soy milk (6 grams per 8 ounce) or about a 1/2 cup (4 oz) of tofu —- about the amount you'd get in a veggie Pad Thai!