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The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 17, 2nd Quarter 2002


Soy Isoflavones and Breast Cancer

Kevin McLaughlin, MA.Sc., D.C

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It has been recognized for several decades that the use of legumes in traditional eastern diets has played a significant role in the incidence and mortality of certain disease states. Soy beans and products containing soy possess unique phytochemicals known as isoflavones which are thought to exert many biological effects in the human body.

Scientists have proposed that these unique isoflavones have hormonal influences which can interact with many different cell types producing varied physiological responses. Epidemiological data, human cell line studies, randomized trails and review articles have consistently shown that certain population groups (Asians, vegetarians) who regularly consume a soy-based diet are afforded protection from breast cancer, endometrial cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and symptoms of hormonal deficiency.1 Typically, Japanese women have higher levels of circulating and urinary isoflavones compared to Western women with concomitant lower rates of hormone-dependent cancers. Japanese women also have lower rates of osteoporosis, heart disease and menopausal complaints.

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