Does Soy really detrimentally affect women’s health?

The consensus is that it is really the opposite and that eating soy products really has beneficial results for both women’s and men’s health.

Soy has been consumed by Asian people for many generations but it has only been included in the Western diet for just 60 years. Studies have shown that Asian women have less health problems dealing with cancer and that the presence of soy in their diet is the determining factor because of the uniquely high content of isoflavones in soy.

Isoflavone compounds have a high concentration of estrogenic properties which means they act like the primary female sex hormone estrogen and they bind to the estrogen receptors in the body. It has been feared in the past that this binding is what causes cancer.

However, studies have now shown that there are two types of receptors in our bodies – alpha receptors that stimulate a tumors growth rate and beta receptors which decrease tumor growth rate and even stimulates apoptosis which is a programmed mechanism in the body that tells the body’s cell to self-destruct when their DNA is damaged and they are not able to repair it. Without this mechanism damaged cells can form cancer.

So why do Asian women have less problems with cancer than Western women especially if Western women have incorporated soy products into their diets?

The impact according to research may have to do to when we start eating it.

Asian women eat soy products from the time they are born or even prenatally in their mother’s wombs because their mother’s diets contain soy, like tofu, edamame, fermented nato, and soy sauce for instance. Thus their bodies were programed for their beta receptors to bind with estrogen, preventing tumors.

It is believed by researchers too that soy in the diet of Asians go back several generations and as a result predetermined that soy reacts as a cancer deterrent throughout life, whereas in the Western culture soy is not readily consumed regularly. When Asian women move to the west they are predisposed to cancer within two generations.

In any case, including soy products in your diet is a benefit to your heart health 

and for women to prevent or decrease cancer growth.  According to Fang Fang Zhang, who is an associate professor at Tufts University located in Massachusetts, who studied 6,000 women with breast cancer, he found a 21% reduction in the mortality rates in women who consumed more soy their diets.

For men it can mean a 30% reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer according to Catherine Applegate, who is a predoctoral fellow with the University of Illinois’s Tissue Microenvironment Training Program and one of the study authors.