Soy may not protect against stomach cancer
Estrogen-like compounds that come with a soy-rich diet are sometimes linked to a reduced risk of cancer, but new research from Japansuggests that protection doesn’t extend to stomach cancer.
In a study that tried to tease apart the effects of isoflavones — also known as phytoestrogens — found in soy, and other nutrients, like salt, Japanese researchers found no difference in gastric cancer risk between people who consumed a lot of isoflavones and those who consumed the least.
Azusa Hara and her colleagues from the National Cancer Center in Tokyo examined data on about 85,000 people in an existing Japanese study.
The researchers estimated how much isoflavone the study’s participants ate from a list of questions they had answered in the 1990s, then followed the subjects until the end of 2006 to see how many developed stomach cancer.
During the follow-up period, approximately 1,250 of the study’s participants got stomach cancer, but the researchers saw no difference in risk between those who ate the most isoflavone and those who ate the least.
According to Dr. Richard Peek, director of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, estrogen is thought to protect against stomach cancer because the disease is much more common in men, at least until women are post-menopausal — hinting that younger women’s higher estrogen levels might be protecting them.
Peek told Reuters Health there are also studies on mice that suggest estrogen protects against stomach cancer.