Population studies suggest soy supplementation can protect women against breast cancer, but do they ?
Soy as a health food
Soy’s big claim to fame, is it has isoflavones. These isoflavones are classed as anti-oxidants. And since too much oxidation is BAD, anti-oxidants are assumed to always be GOOD.
But, isoflavones are more than just anti-oxidants, they structurally look a lot like estrogen, so in addition to being classed as anti-oxidants, they are also phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). This special property, is the reason they are touted as remedy for the “troubles” associated with menopause and beyond. Hormonally speaking, menopause is characterized by a loss of estrogen.
Munching on soy protein, has the potential to put back the estrogen, making everything better.
But, what happens when there is too much estrogen ?
Estrogen makes cells divide
Many, not all, breast cancers are estrogen positive.
And this means, they are motivated to grow, lots, in the presence of estrogen.
And soy…………………. is an estrogen.
Comparing apples and apples
But, populations that traditionally eat lots of “fermented” soy products – don’t have high rates of breast cancer.
So what is the story ?
The soy story
A team of researchers from New York’s at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, set about trying to figure it out. The team decided to look at what happens in women with a diagnosis of breast cancer.
The ladies had all received the devastating news and were in limbo, waiting for surgery to remove the tumour. The ladies were divided into two groups. Both groups of ladies were given a “prescription” for a protein shake. Half of the ladies in this awful predicament, were put onto a soy based protein shake, the other half, were put on a milk based product.
The ladies were told to consume the shakes, twice a day, up until the day before the surgery. On average, the ladies waited 14-15 days, for their surgery to take place.
Breast cancer talk
A biopsy of the tumour was taken for each lady, at the start of the study and then, when the tumour was removed, during the surgery, a bit was kept for analysis. The team used cutting edge technology, to establish which genes were turned on/off, in the two tumour specimens.
They found the tumour talk changed in the group of ladies consuming the soy shakes.
And the change was “disturbing” and correlated with the levels of genistein in their blood samples. (Genistein is one of the soy isoflavones).
An UPSET tumour
A whole bunch of genes, 21 in total, changed their expression levels. Several gene expression changes caught the eye of the team. The most troubling, a group of genes, associated with cell proliferation, were all firing louder, this included the FGFR2 gene, as well as E2F5, BUB1, CCNB2, MYBL2, CDK1, and CDC20.
I know this just looks like gobbledee goo, so let me try put it in perspective. The FGFR2 gene is officially considered to be a cancer causing gene i.e. a oncogene and when it is expressed in a tumour, it usually means, things will not end well.
Soy trips the switch
Potentially making things worse, not better.
Based on this study, which is in humans with cancer, it seems taking in extra soy, is NOT a health move. In fact, it may be detrimental. Since, the evidence that soy supplementation protects bones, is at best sketchy – supplementing with soy is probably not a good idea.
We’ve been programmed to believe soy is a health food, but as far sperm are concerned, the lady of the soy bean wreaks havoc on sperm counts.
Iron accumulates inside the human body, especially the brain. Iron and oxygen don’t mix……. the combination leads to rusty parts and serious breakdowns.
For a cancer cell to grow big and strong, it needs to eat. So one way to weaken them, is to put them on a serious diet.
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