As October comes to a close, the enormous amount of publicity given to Breast Cancer Month wanes a bit. I’m a strong proponent of education, and of preventive health care. But unfortunately, for many women, the fear of breast cancer has now reached epidemic proportions. Fear is a stressor that, left unchecked, can actually contribute to cancer. Stress heightens endocrine and nervous system activity, contributing to allostatic overload and exceeding our ability to adapt, restore energy, and maintain health and balance. This interferes with our body’s natural cancer-protective abilities. It’s important to realize that much of the fear propagated by the media is fueled by misinformation and misunderstanding. For example, studies show that most women believe that their risk of breast cancer is far greater than it really is.
Over the past few years, soy seems to have gone from the best food one can eat to the worst. According to soy opponents, tofu causes everything from birth defects to pancreatic cancer. It’s no wonder that people are concerned and confused.
In my opinion, there is a great deal of fear-mongering as well as inaccurate (and one-sided) interpretation of studies. Hundreds of reports in leading peer-reviewed journals worldwide provide compelling research that soy helps to protect against cancer, most notably breast cancer. For example, researchers at Japan’s National Cancer Center followed the eating habits of more than 20,000 women for a decade, and found that those who consumed at least three bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of breast cancer by about 40 percent. Miso (a concentrated fermented soybean paste) and all soy foods (as well as many other legumes) are rich in isoflavones, natural compounds that appear to impede the growth of some tumors.