Over the past few years, a lot of myths revolving around soya appeared over the internet, and one very common one is that soy’s isoflavones have oestrogenic properties and it was blamed for raising the risk of breast cancer (and prostate cancer in men). Is this just a myth?
Recently adopted aliment
While soya was consumed in many Asian countries for millennia, it’s only been a common part of the Western diet for about 60 years. Today, European supermarkets have plenty of soy milk alternatives, soy burgers and various other soy-based meat replacements, like tofu, soya sauce and others.
Soya was linked to various health problems, and one of them is a low risk of heart disease. However, one greater problem soya was linked with is breast cancer: Soya contains a great number of isoflavones, which have oestrogenic properties (acting like estrogen, the main female hormone), binding estrogen receptors in the body, and estrogen can fuel the growth of some types of breast cancer.
There isn’t a straight answer towards the risk women expose themselves to when consuming soy. Some observations concluded that soya intake among Asian women was linked to a 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Asian women consume more than 10 times more isoflavones (by ingesting soya).
Research among 6,000 women with breast cancer living in the United States concluded that those who consumed more soya had a 21% reduction in mortality.
Reasons for the myth
Soya has been found to catalyst the growth of cancer cells in lab research. An experiment from 2001 in which mice with inhibited immune systems and with cancerous tumors that were fed isoflavones concluded that soya facilitated the growth of tumors in mice.