Nutrition and Bone Growth: Anatomy Lab Sec. 3 For years soy has been looked at as a breast cancer and heart disease preventer, bone protecter, a lesson er of menopause symptoms and many others. Recent studies now show that we ve been loading up on soy with no real clear evidence of findings that soy does all these things. Neither a group of breast-cancer survivors nor post-menopausal women who took a soy supplement experienced any relief. To make matters worse, soy s role in helping to prevent breast cancer is also being rethought. Soy has been found to block human estrogen, thereby inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells.

However, plant hormones called isoflavones, may also act like the estrogen hormone and actually promote growth in existing tumors. At Texas University it was found that pre-menopausal women who took in 158 mg of isoflavones had lower levels of estrogen that may increase breast-cancer risk, and at the same time, higher levels of a form of estrogen were found that could lower risks. Many women simply want to know how much is the safest amount to take in to their bodies. Doctors are now telling women that 20-120 mg is the safest amount of isoflavones to take in, but it varies from female to female. However they don t know the long term effect that taking 200 mg or more may be. Even if doctors could come up with an exact amount to take, such a supplement isn t tightly regulated.

There is also no guarantee of how much you are getting because you don t know how much is in our everyday food. Like the old clique, it s better to be safe than sorry, doctors are now telling us that it s ok to eat soy supplements or soy food a few times a week but if you have a large intake or are just not sure about it you should talk to your doctor. There s no need to panic as long as you ve been consistently adding little soy at a time to your diet. Consuming large amounts whe your body hasn t seen it before could be very dangerous.

Ther is nothing to worry about as long as you stick with sources like soy milk and tofu on a regular but spaced out diet. Something else to comfort the soy lovers of the world, that in actual animal studies, soy (isoflavones) lessens bone loss. And in recent studies, research found that eating soy foods can reduce heart-disease risk without contributing to hormone cancer. Hermann, Mindy R. D. Nutrition: Soy Backlash.

SHAPE Magazine. 2000 October pgs. 92-95.