In my last post, I discussed the benefits of phytoestrogens, and how these plant compounds may help to regulate the effects of estrogen. While soy foods are perhaps the best-known phytoestrogens, there are a number of herbs with apparent phytoestrogenic properties that have a long history of use in herbal medicine. Current research has demonstrated the usefulness of these botanicals in protecting breast and prostate health.
In the quest to identify nutritional compounds that potentially influence breast cancer (and other hormonally driven cancers), phytoestrogens are among the best researched. The label “phytoestrogen” has been given to specific compounds in plants and foods that under certain conditions appear to have a modulatory effect on estrogen and other hormone receptors.
Plants contain a diversity of beneficial compounds, including a wide range of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, lignans, and phytosterols. Each phytochemical exerts multiple actions, both alone and in combination within and on target cells, including the epigenome. Abundant data indicates that these compounds act on estrogen receptors; for example, isoflavone and other compounds referred to as phytoestrogens have an ability to inhibit local estrogen synthesis and induce epigenetic changes.1 According to the most recent literature, phytoestrogens have demonstrated positive effects on breast cancer prognosis, including breast cancer recurrence and mortality in survivors of the disease.2 Continue reading “Phytoestrogens and Breast Health”
Reprinted with the permission of Bottom Line/Personal
Over the past few years, soy seems to have gone from one of the healthiest foods to one of the least healthy, with some health professionals accusing the bean of causing a wide range of problems, from thyroid damage to pancreatic cancer. Are they right? Should you avoid soy?
My viewpoint: Eating traditional foods such as miso, tofu and others in amounts eaten by Asian peoples for thousands of years not only poses no threat to health…but (according to thousands of scientific studies) may help protect you from many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
On the other hand, eating some of the recently invented foods that are made from soy—and there are thousands of these—is a different story altogether.
What you need to know…
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.