After my little vegan experiment began, I found that many of the products and recipes contained soy. Tofu, many of the pre-packaged meals, frozen foods, etc., all contained this little protein-packed product. I found myself using a lot of it; and after hearing mixed reviews about whether it was bad to consume too much, I decided to do a little investigating. So, what is the deal with soy? Is it bad? Does it cause cancer?
(**My disclaimer: I must remind everyone that I am NOT a doctor, or a nutritionist. I always recommend that if you have concerns, you speak to your own physician.)
Before going on a wild goose chase, I spoke to my oncologist about my concerns. She told me there was really no concern unless my cancer had been hormone-related; and it was not. She went on to say that she probably wouldn’t eat tons of it, just like anything else; however, there was no reason in her mind for me to fear it. Still not completely convinced, I did some additional research.
Dr. Oz, well-known celebrity physician, whom many people respect, indicates that many of the concerns about soy are unwarranted. For example, the concern that soy will cause breast cancer because of the containment of isoflavones (also found in beans, grains and vegetables) is not justified. Soy has a highly concentrated amount of the isoflavones; but “[h]uman estrogen is over 1000-times stronger.” There is also evidence that breast cancer may even be reduced with diets high in soy. Dr. Oz debunks other myths as well, such as soy being dangerous for one’s heart. He says it could actually help lower blood pressure by “encouraging your body to produce nitric oxide.”
Next, I found an article from U.S. News and Health, citing a study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism indicating that soy may even counteract effects of BPA exposure. Like Dr. Oz, this article also discusses the isoflavone effect; and points again to a lower risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer rates in women who ate more soy in adolescence. The article does say to optimize the effects of soy, you should eat it in the purest forms. As with all other foods…the more processed, the worse it is for you.
The Journal of Nutrition, in 2000, linked better plasma lipid profiles in the Hong Kong Chinese population who had weekly intake of soy products.
Finally, the American Heart Association, in a 2006 study, indicates there may be cardiovascular benefits, and notes no negative consequence, or very inconclusive evidence from consuming soy.
**Please note: There is some evidence that soy may be bad for those already suffering from thyroid problems, so again – talk to your doctor.
I do understand that for all the things I cite, there may be an article or website out there to the contrary. There is also mounds of information beyond the little bit that I have noted here. I tried to find sources that I consider reputable, and looked at both current and historical data, and of course, consulted with my doctor. For me, the decision to eat soy is one I am comfortable with at this time; and I just wanted to share what I discovered on my quest.
(Quinoa and brown rice pasta with sauteed tofu and spinach)