Ask the Doctor: Soy and Breast Cancer

Posted on Mar 25, 2013 in Research

Q: As a breast cancer survivor, should I eat or avoid soy?  — Amanda in Bartlesville

A: New research indicates that soy foods decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Naturopathic oncologist Dr Tina Kaczor states: “As the following studies show, evidence suggests there is no increased risk of recurrence for any subpopulations of breast cancer survivors (eg, pre- or postmenopausal, estrogen receptor positive or negative, those on or off hormonal treatments). Further, soy consumption lessened risk of all-cause mortality with increasing levels of consumption.”

Furthermore, soy enhances the effectiveness of tamoxifen in postmenopausal women.

I do encourage you to choose organic soy, as genetically modified (GMO) conventional soy causes cancer in animals. It’s also wise to choose traditional soy foods over highly processed ones. For example, tempeh or edamame are much better than a protein bar with soy protein isolate. Digestion affects whether soy is beneficial or harmful, as gut bacteria metabolize soy. Maintaining regular bowel movements is an important part of breast cancer prevention, as hormones get eliminated that way. Eating ground flax seed is a great way to eliminate hormones through the intestines, while also decreasing the risk of cancer recurrence.