Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer don’t need to worry about eating moderate amounts of soy foods, according to AICR 2011 Research Conference speaker Bette J. Caan, DrPH, Senior Research Scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
Soy foods contain compounds called isoflavones, phytochemicals found to behave like the sex hormone estrogen, which is linked to promotion of breast cancer. Yet soy foods have for the most part been associated with a lower risk of breast cancer — especially in Asian countries where unprocessed soy foods like tofu are a regular part of the diet from an early age.
There has also been concern because of the estrogen-like qualities of soy foods that in survivors, these foods might interfere with the benefits of tamoxifen therapy. That’s why some doctors caution breast cancer patients against eating soy foods like tofu, edamame, tempeh and soy milk.
Today, at AICR’s annual conference session on Cancer Treatment and Survivorship, Dr. Caan stated that enough evidence seems to have accumulated from human studies of breast cancer survivors to relieve fears that soy foods may increase breast cancer risk or recurrence.
For weight control and good health – including cancer prevention – you likely know that physical activity is a good thing. What is less well known is how physical activity can help cancer survivors. But increasingly, it appears that it does.
One of the latest studies showing physical activities’ benefits among survivors focuses on prostate cancer.
The study found that men who walked briskly for three hours per week after their prostate cancer diagnoses had a lower risk of cancer progression.
It was published in Cancer Research, and you can read the abstract here.
Earlier this year, this same group of researchers found that activity after diagnosis reduced disease-related mortality in men with a certain type of prostate cancer. This new study focused on the effect of physical activity after diagnosis on early indicators of disease progression, such as a rise in PSA blood levels, along with treatment type, recurrence, and metastasis.
I just got back from Delaware where I gave the keynote at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Annual Breast Cancer Update, a conference attended by cancer survivors, health care professionals and others interested in breast cancer prevention. With so many ideas out there on how to make a positive difference for survivors – from dietary changes and exercise to supplements – it’s hard to know which steps are most likely to help (and which can possibly cause harm).
One of the physicians participating in a panel discussion noted that we need to look at both “the seeds and the soil”. That is, look at treatments that target any remaining cells that could be “seeds” for cancer recurrence, and also focus on how we can create “soil” – meaning an environment within our body – that does not support cancer cell growth.
Although weight gain and decreases in physical activity are common among breast cancer survivors, part of my presentation at the conference included studies showing that efforts to stop the gain and find ways to work in physical activity daily seem to deserve spots high on the priority list.
Moderate physical activity alone, without changes in diet, usually leads to only modest and slow weight loss. Conference participants were buzzing when they saw data showing that physical activity seems to have important protective effects quite soon, even without weight loss.