Soy May Be Beneficial For Breast Cancer Patients, Study Suggests

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new study suggests soy may not be as risky as once thought, and actually may be beneficial for some patients.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports, Asian women who eat lots of soy are less likely to die of breast cancer or have a recurrence. As a result, American women started eating soy to protect themselves. But some studies found that soy may interfere with anti-cancer drugs. Also, since soy mimics estrogen, it could help fuel some breast cancers.

So what’s a woman to do?

32-year-old Marianne Lu is battling aggressive breast cancer. She’s always had a healthy approach to her diet, but has worried about soy products.

“Whenever the whole soy thing started happening where people were like ‘it’s bad for you, you shouldn’t eat it,’ I started to avoid it and I haven’t eaten soy,” she said.

Over the years, breast cancer concerns have caused many women to avoid soy. New research now suggests soy is safe for breast cancer patients and may even be beneficial.

“Soy has been a real concern and controversy through the years because of the potential estrogen-like effects of the components of soy and the potential for stimulating receptor positive breast cancer cells,” Dr. Heather McArthur of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center tells CBS2.

Researchers found women who consumed the highest amounts of soy had a 21 percent lower risk of dying.

Patients whose cancers are not driven by estrogen — called estrogen receptor negative — have the most benefit.

Dr. McArthur says it’s also promising for patients with hormone related cancer.

“That the consumption of soy is safe and doesn’t appear to impact survival is really encouraging, particularly for women taking hormone therapy for breast cancer,” she said.

The study only looked at soy found in foods, not in supplements. Doctors say as with most things, moderation is usually best.

While soy may not protect as much as had been hoped depending on the type of breast cancer a woman develops, the bottom line is that it doesn’t do harm or interfere with cancer therapy. So if you like tofu, help yourself.

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