Research has revealed that one of the most popular, low-calorie, high-protein foods is actually linked to the development of cancer. It turns out that eating soy, which is an incredibly versatile product that is used in a variety of food stuffs, can actually cause cancer genes to be turned on.
Isoflavones are a component of soybeans that are very similar to estrogen. Estrogen can promote cancer growth and proliferation, which has led to rising concerns over the safety of soy products.
Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the study included 140 women that were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, had undergone a biopsy, and were due to receive a mastectomy or lumpectomy within two to three weeks. Half of the women were asked to consume 52 grams of soy protein daily, while the other half were given a placebo that resembled soy protein.
After the women underwent their procedures, researchers were able to analyze tissue samples from both before and after the soy was consumed. The results revealed that multiple genes relating to cell growth were turned on after the soy consumption period. This activity was only seen in the 70 women who consumed the soy protein. Unfortunately, the study did not last long enough to determine whether or not these changes would eventually lead to cancer development.
Jacqueline Bromberg, M.D., Ph.D., one of the study’s authors, suggests, “If you currently have early-stage breast cancer, don’t eat soy in large amounts.” While the results of this study are not conclusive, they do indicate the need for more research to be done.
Soy products are not just associated with cancer, though. There are many other potentially harmful aspects to soy. For example, some 90 percent of all soybeans are genetically modified and most are heavily treated with pesticides. In addition to concerns about the isoflavones in soy products, there is also reason to be concerned about the enzyme inhibitors which are also present, since these are another potential avenue through which cancer may be caused. Studies show that animals fed enzyme inhibitors developed pathological conditions of the pancreas, including pancreatic cancer.
Soybeans can also interfere with nutrient absorption. The phytic acid in soy prevents the body from properly absorbing essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.
Soy products are often touted as amazing health foods, but nothing could be further from the truth. Though it is true that Asian cultures have been consuming soy for thousands of years, it is only when they figured out how to ferment soybeans that they began to consume them. This is because the fermentation process helps to rid soybeans of their toxic elements, such as nitrites and goitrogens.
The fermentation process also helps to boost the bio-availability of the nutrients found in soy products. Some popular fermented soy products are tempeh, natto and miso.