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Cancer Health Center

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Soy, Fish May Cut Cancer Risk

Studies Shed New Light on Diets That May Protect Against Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 14, 2006 -- Soy and fish won attention today for their possible cancer prevention qualities at a meeting of cancer researchers in Boston.

According to the research findings:

Those findings come from two different studies presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting, being held by the American Association for Cancer Research.

However, the researchers warn, it's too soon to make dietary promises about the cancer prevention qualities of soy and fish from these studies.

Soy & Breast Cancer

The study looking at soy was based on interviews with 1,500 women aged 20-55 of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino descent. The women were living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hawaii.

Researchers included the National Cancer Institute's Larissa Korde, MD, MPH.

The researchers questioned the women -- and their mothers, when possible -- about how much soy they ate as kids, teens, and adults.

They found that women with the highest childhood soy intake were 58% less likely to get breast cancer than those with the lowest intake.

In this study, women with the highest childhood soy intake ate soy -- mainly tofu -- a little more than twice a week. Those with the lowest childhood soy intake ate soy about once a month, Korde says.

Women who ate the most soy as teens or adults were about 25% less likely to have breast cancer than those who skimped on it.

The study results weren't affected by family history of breast cancer and were "strikingly consistent," Korde says.

She calls the findings "provocative" but says they need to be replicated.

Meanwhile, the researchers aren't telling anyone to load their kids' diets with soy.

"Our study suggests that soy intake during childhood may have a biological effect on breast carcinogenesis [breast cancer development]," Korde says, but she calls for further studies on the topic.

Men, Fish, and Colorectal Cancer

The second study found that men who eat fish frequently may be less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who rarely eat fish.

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