Effects of Soy Products on Cancer


02 Apr 2018

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  • Jessica Chen

Soy Products and Cancer

What we eat everyday poses a threat in some shape whether it be sweets, salty foods, or soy products. The latest trend right now is to consume soy produce to reduce weight and become animal conservatives. Soy products are very popular because people who have allergies or people who are vegetarian/vegan have an alternative to get daily intake of proteins and amino acids. However what people do not know is that these soy products are more harmful than helpful.

Cancer is defined by out-of-control cell growth. There are two types of cancer cells, malignant and non-malignant. Non-malignant cells tend to be only in one area. Malignant cells spread from one area to another, typically invading cells. Since the growth of malignant cells is different form normal cells, instead of dying, the cell multiplies. Malignant cells then become malignant tumors. A tumor is abnormal growth of tissue that swells without inflammation. These infected tissues will compete with normal cells for nutrients. Malignant tumors are resistant to treatment most of the time and the patient most likely will relapse after removal. Cancer typically starts when one or more genes are mutated. Normally the body is able to correct the mutation but some times it cannot. Proto-oncogenes are genes that are altered so it becomes an oncogene that contributes to cancer. These genes prevent the cell from dying and it lets the cell survive. Tumor-suppressor genes are genes that can block cancer from developing and these genes direct protein production that regulates cell division. Cancer risk factors come in different forms. Smoking, infection, radiation, medicine, diet, alcohol, obesity, and environmental risks are examples of general risk factors. Depending on everyday situation, anything can become a risk factor. Long term smoking and tobacco use usually leads to lung and mouth cancer.

Soy products are made out of soybeans that originated in East Asia. It is used to make different foods and the soybeans can be eaten whole, given that they are cooked first. Soy products appears in almost every aisle of the supermarket. Many foods are now made with soy products to reduce the number of people who are allergic to certain substances like peanuts, milk and other items. Soy is versatile so it is used to enhance finished products. Boxed food items typically have soy protein added to them to improve texture, shelf-life, and nutrition. The protein is added to meats to help in various aspects to appeal to consumers. “90% of soy produced in the United States is modified and sprayed with Roundup” (Samsel, 2013). It contains chemicals that may or may not the human body's natural function. Soy contains a compound called isoflavones, which are classified as endocrine disruptors. Isoflavones can activate “estrogen-receptor positive breast tumor growth” says Marji McCullough (2012). Genistein and daidzein are examples of isoflavones. Genistein is targeted as an anti-cancer compound and researchers show that genistein inhibits prostate cancer cell growth (Samadi, 2012). The East Asian countries tend to have diets that are rich in soy. Japanese people consume miso soup, natto, and other sources that contain soy products. Since soy contains fiber, it can lower risks for other cancers besides breast cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research writes that diets that are high in fiber lowers the risk of colorectum cancer (AICR, 2014). AICR also writes that consuming soy milk lowers the risk of prostate cancer.

There are several studies that show that consuming soy products can prevent relapsing of breast cancer. A study by the Journal of the America Medical Association, released in 2009, announced that the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study evaluated the relationship between soy food and the transience and the relapse of breast cancer. The researchers followed the Shanghai women of ages 20 to 75 years old for about 3.9 years to take note of the intake of how many grams of soy consumed in one day. Overall the study showed that the higher the intake of soy, the higher the chances of not relapsing back into breast cancer. Other study conducted by Life After Cancer Epidemiology in 2009 concluded that there was a “significant reduced risk breast cancer recurrence in postmenopausal tamoxifen users in the highest quintile of diadzein intake(P=0.008)” (Kaczor, 2012). Both are credible in the sense that both studies concluded that more soy in the diet means the lower the risk of cancer.

Another study was conducted to look into the balance between soy milk and prostate cancer. The scientists followed “225 cases of 12, 305 California Seventh-Day men who in 1976 stated how often they drank soy milk” (Jacobsen, 1998). The results came out as the more frequent the consumption of soy milk, the higher the reduction risk of prostate cancer, which was 70 percent and they concluded that “men with high consumption of soy milk are at reduced risk of prostate cancer” (Jacobsen, 1998). However there is also a study that was conducted in Korea and these scientists concluded that the “consumption of soybean milk, miso, or natto did not significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer” (Hwang, 2009).

Extensive research and studies have shown that there are two sides to eating soy products and its relationship to cancer. Some professionals say that consuming soy can reduce cancer risks but other professionals say that soy has no effects on reducing the relapse of any cancer. In the end, precautions must be taken before consuming soy products in the mindset of if it can lower risks of cancer.


"AICR's Foods That Fight Cancer™." AICR All. 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/soy.html#research>.

Hwang, YW. "Soy Food Consumption and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Meta-analysis of Observational Studies." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19838933>.

Jacobsen, BK. "Does High Soy Milk Intake Reduce Prostate Cancer Incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States)." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1998. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10189040>.

Kaczor, Tina. "The Effects of Soy Consumption on Breast Cancer Prognosis." Natural Medicine Journal. 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2013-01/effects-soy-consumption-breast-cancer-prognosis>.

McCullough, Marji. "American Cancer Society Expert Voices Blog." Cancer.org. 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2012/08/02/the-bottom-line-on-soy-and-breast-cancer-risk.aspx>.

Samadi, Dr. "High Soy Diet Reduces Risk of Prostate Cancer." Fox News. FOX News Network, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/13/high-soy-diet-reduces-risk-prostate-cancer/>.

Samsel, Anthony, and Stephanie Seneff. "Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases." Entropy 15 (2013). Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416>.


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