The Benefits of Soy

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In mouse experiments, researchers have found that a chemical in soy slowed prostate cancer growth. The chemical, genestein, killed the cancer cells, the scientists from the University of California, Davis, found. Genestein is one of two compounds in soy that belong to a family of chemicals known as isoflavones, said Ralph deVere White, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center and chairman of the urology department. These chemicals mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen in the body. It could be that the prevalence of soy in Asian diets may account in part for why Asian men suffer a lower rate of prostate cancer than men living in the United States, the scientists said. The results were presented an American Urological Association meeting in Anaheim.


Soy and other legumes may help women keep their bones strong after menopause. Health experts suggest that natural compounds in legumes called phytoestrogens protect bones from mineral loss. Researchers in China studied 357 postmenopausal Chinese women whose average phytoestrogen intake was seven times higher than that found in Western populations. “We found that women who ate 60 milligrams of phytoestrogens per day, which is the equivalent of two pieces of tofu or three cups of soy milk, had stronger bones,” says Dr. Annie Kung. In addition, investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston found that soy consumption may stimulate bone formation or turnover. “Additional studies are now needed to determine whether soy diets have a long term beneficial effect on bone and a direct impact on fracture rates in women,” says Dr. Lee-Jane Lu. The researchers presented their findings in Denver at an annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.