Soy food products are usually considered as a healthy intake; however, previous studies suggested that the intake of soy products enables the escalation of breast cancer in women. It occurs due to the availability of estrogen-like properties in the soy products.

A new study reveals that soy product components called isoflavones are capable of slowing down the progression of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer

The Study

Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University conducted a study along with her colleagues. To examine the effect of the soy products on breast cancer patients, the researchers examined the connection between intake of isoflavones and death. The trial included a total of 6,235 American and Canadian women suffering from breast cancer.

The study was done over a period of nine years during which the researchers conducted various follow-ups with the patients. It was revealed at the end of the research that women who consumed high proportions of isoflavones were at a lesser risk of succumbing to death by 21 percent, when compared to women who took in low amounts of the same.

Findings Of The Study

The decrease in risk was largely limited to patients with hormone receptor-negative tumors and women who have not undergone anti-estrogen therapy.

"Based on our results, we do not see a detrimental effect of soy food intake among women who were treated with endocrine therapy," said Dr. Zhang.

She added that soy food products can act as a shield for women diagnosed with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. A weaker but significant association was also observed among women who did not undergo endocrine therapy treatment.

Why Are The Isoflavones Working Positively?

Researchers suggest that isoflavones in soy products bear a similarity to the hormone estrogen. The hormone estrogen binds the breast cells together, which sometimes results the cells to grow unnaturally fast.

However, isoflavones can be treated as a weaker form of estrogen which takes up space among the breast cancer cells and crowds out the more powerful cancer causing estrogen from the body.

Although the research provides positive results pertaining to consumption of soy-based products by breast cancer patients, Kathy Chapman, chair at Cancer Council Australia warned women to be cautious as the "jury is still out."

The study has been published in the journal Cancer.

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