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Topic: Soy in foods

Forum: Healthy Recipes for Everyday Living — A place to share our "healthier" recipes and food tips for everyday life.

Posted on: Nov 29, 2012 07:50AM

Shellies wrote:

So yesterday was my "anniversary" of being diagnosed... and yesterday was the first time I'd heard "avoid soy"...???

First of all... have I done any damage?!  (100% estrogen... on / off tamoxifin around chemo and surgeries, then off tamoxifin since October, starting femara TODAY.  I feel like there was A LOT of down time in there!)  There's soy in EVERYTHING, I see!  <gasp>  My VITAMINS even have soy!  YIKES!  I've been taking them all year!!!

Secondly... Is there a list of "Eat this, not this" on here and I'm just not seeing it?!

(OK.... don't laugh...)  Is burning soy candles allowed?  Soy in make-up?  (No!  I'm not planning on consuming these items!!!)

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Posts 1 - 13 (13 total)

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Nov 29, 2012 01:01PM SelenaWolf wrote:

At some point, we all have to make choices about what we feel comfortable with.  For myself, personally, I feel that a "moderation is all things" approach is acceptable.  I recognize the scientifically-proven link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risks, so I've reduced my intake substantially.  However, once-in-awhile, I still indulge in a chilled glass of wine.  This is what I'm comfortable with, but someone else might not be.

You will find tons of "do this" "don't do that" articles out there.  You will find information on "cancer-fighting foods" and "cancer causing foods".  You will dig up data on foods with phytoestrogens (a "don't") and theories about creating an "alkaline" body environment (a "do").  It can get a little crazy and overwhelming.

I think that, when articles talk about "do's" and "don'ts", there is a lot of generalization.  And I've always felt that many of the "don'ts" we read about cannot be proven scientifically or, at least, to anyone's satisfaction.  For every "do", you'll find a conflicting "don't".

Personally - again, my opinion only! - I don't think small amounts of soy are an issue.  I could be wrong, but my impression is that the studies are targeting diets that contain a great deal of soy products.  Again, some of the information is conflicting and unconclusive and some of the information very strongly shows that soy products should be avoided.

I don't think there is a comprehensive list here (again, I could be wrong), but many of the ladies here have made personal decisions based on what they feel comfortable with.  Some things are hard- and fast rules: don't smoke; don't drink more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks a week OR don't drink period; keep your weight within normal ranges; and exercise.  The jury is still out on the sugar issue: that is, currently, being researched via the Metformin clinical trial, which should wrap up in 2017.  I think large amounts of soy on a daily basis is, perhaps, unwise until it is proven conclusively one way or another that it is safe (or not).  Some women avoid certain plastics and products with parabens or estrogens, but there are some women here who've been given the "go ahead" by their oncologist's to use a topical cream with estrogen in it to ease menopausal vaginal atrophy because 1) the estrogen is not being ingested, and 2) the estrogen levels in the cream are so low as to be negligable.

This is something you should discuss with your oncologist or a nutritionist/dietician or a naturopath if it really concerns you.

"... good girls never made history ..."

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Nov 29, 2012 04:25PM Blessings2011 wrote:

Shellies - I agree with SelenaWolf on this!

I love my Oncologist. She's brilliant, funny, empathetic, and a true expert in her field. She's the Chief of the Oncology Department as well as a dedicated researcher. I trust her completely.

I met with her yesterday, and had the same question, as the weight loss program I'm on relies on products that contain soy protein isolates. When I first started the program, I asked about this, and she said not to worry. She said that she preferred that I not drink soy milk in the large quantities that I was, but otherwise, there have been NO definitive studies showing that soy products negatively affect women whose cancer is estrogen positive.

I'm 100% ER+. My weight loss products contain soy, my fish oil caps contain soy, as do some other foods I eat. My MO completely approves. (And I'm taking Anastrozole for 5 years.)

As for a "cancer diet" in general, her opinion is to eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods, cut back on sugars and fats, reduce or eliminate the processed foods, avoid chemicals and preservatives, and watch portion control. Try to get your vitamins and minerals from real food, not supplements. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise daily, and don't stress about what you "should" or "shouldn't" be doing.

She does advocate quitting smoking, and consuming alcohol in only small quantities if at all, but otherwise, she said that according to the latest research, there is no reason to eat specific foods, or avoid specific foods.

Dx 9/15/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 12/05/2011 Mastectomy (Both); Lymph Node Removal (Left); Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement (Both)Surgery 08/22/2012 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Hormonal Therapy 09/05/2012 ArimidexHormonal Therapy 10/22/2013 Femara
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Nov 30, 2012 09:34AM, edited Nov 30, 2012 09:41AM by SelenaWolf

And, to add to Blessings point about a healthy diet: this is something that is going to improve your health overall.  The items she brought up "... eat a variety of fresh, healthy foods, cut back on sugars and fats, reduce or eliminate processed foods..." - this is excellent advice for promoting good health, not just for reducing cancer risk.

Many of the discussions you'll participate in advocate all sorts of thing to reduce your risk of recurrence and - as present/former cancer patients - that becomes an overriding concern going forward.  But I can't help feel - again, my opinion only! - that, sometimes, in our zeal to lower our recurrence risk as much as possible, we can - possibly - substantially increase our risk of other life-threatening diseases. 

For example, an oophrectomy can lower the levels of oestrogen in your body and, thus, perhaps, inhibit the ability of any stray ER+ breast cancer cells from using oestrogen to begin growing again; however - for people like me with a significant family history of heart disease and stroke, as well as debilitating osteoporosis- and arthritis - an oophrectomy would put me at MUCH HIGHER risk for these diseases than I am for a cancer recurrence.  And heart disease and stroke can kill just as easily as cancer can.  I know: my father, three paternal uncles, a maternal uncle, and four cousins have already died from heart disease, all of them, but two before the age of 50.  So I, personally, have become very sensitive to finding that "balance" that I am comfortable with.  I don't want to survive breast cancer, only to be felled by heart disease if I can do something to prevent it.

Everything carries with it SOME risk.  We can't eliminate it entirely.  The trick is finding your comfort zone.  And, I think, you really need to bring your oncologist into this discussion of what to embrace/avoid going forward.  In addition, I've found that my pharmacist has been an invaluable resource, so involve him/her in your concerns, as well.  And, again, a nutritionist/dietician could help you make the most of what you eat.

Good luck.

"... good girls never made history ..."

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Nov 30, 2012 02:44PM FriendGwen wrote:

Great thread and a topic I have been thinking a lot about. I have followed a vegetarian diet off an one for the last twenty years and have relied on soy for protein. When Morningstar Farms came out with all those easy convenient delicious veggie burgers, fake bacon and chicken patties I was in Heaven. Although I intend to still eat them from time to time they will no longer be a major source of my diet. I am beginning to include meat back into my diet although am primarily interested in free-range meat. Also will try to continue to move to more of natural diet that uses real unprocessed food. Alcohol is another interesting topic. Upon getting my diagnosis in September I abstained for two months. I was a little freaked at the possible breast cancer - alcohol connection but more it was just about not allowing myself to numb my emotions and not be on my game. By Thanksgiving I was feeling more accepting and okay now that the surgery was over and I was gearing up for treatment. So I enjoyed some wine with dinner and even had a beer the next day. Now I'm back to figuring out my alcohol balance. Am heading to happy hour this afternoon and have decided I'll have one beer and one non-alcohol beer. One or two drinks a week will be my new normal. I suppose all these changes are positive ones that I wish I could have done without the BC diagnosis but alas, it is what it is and no matter what the changes are positive ones for my body.

Dx 9/17/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 10/18/2012 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left); Prophylactic Mastectomy (Right)Chemotherapy 12/05/2012 Cytoxan, TaxotereHormonal Therapy 06/01/2013 Tamoxifen
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Dec 2, 2012 10:23AM SelenaWolf wrote:

I allow myself one- to two glasses of wine per month.  As my oncologist said, "... you still have to enjoy life and a glass of wine - on occasion - is perfectly acceptable..."  I've minimised my consumption of heavily processed meats - i.e., deli meats, bacon, ham - and, when I do indulge, I've switched to a "naturals" brand that doesn't use nitrates or preservatives.  I've never used butter/cream substitutes - always the real thing - but the trick to that is portion-control.  A little bit - here and there - will not affect my cholesterol levels.  I've taken up French cooking over the last year; not the fancy, five-star restaurant kind, but the everyday kind that focussed on fresh, organic foods with an emphasis on a wide variety of vegetables, prepared simply and served in proper portions.  I made a creamed Spring Pea soup a few weeks ago that - for eight servings - used less than a 1/4 cup cream.  It was delicious, healthy.  And I'm loving it.

"... good girls never made history ..."

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Dec 2, 2012 01:55PM dlb823 wrote:

Shellies, I've shared this many times, but my medical team at UCLA, which includes an integrative MD, and my PCP and naturopathic docs, all believe that soy -- with the exception of soy protein isolate -- is a good source of lean protein for us -- in moderation (no more than 1 serving/day), and provided that we've always eaten it and like it.  The soy protein isolate -- which is soy protein powder, which is found not only in the powder form but in many energy bars and other foods -- is a no-no because it's an overly processed and concentrated form of soy.

The other issue with soy and why some advise avoiding it is the fact that it's a mostly GMO crop, plus heavily sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, so the byproducts, such as soy lecithin, are presumed to be full of that nasty stuff.  If you do eat soy, be sure it's organic.

As far as wine goes (and I've tried to keep up on the research) -- from what I've read, wine in moderation seems to be okay -- unless you have ILC (which I do).  For some reason (and I can find that study if anyone's interested), ILC survivors were considered separately in that study, and alcohol was not as safe for us.  UCLA simply advises not to drink unless it's a special occasion, and then only 1 glass of champagne, for example, which is what I do.

For what it's worth, I'm also going to venture an opinion that "in moderation" does not mean two glasses a day.  From what I've read, that "two glasses a day" phrase was never intended to be a safe cut-off for daily consumption, but more the upper limit chosen by someone for survey purposes, and it just sort of stuck.  That much has never been proven as safe for anyone, although I realize many are comfortable with it.

Just my two cents worth, but, of course we all have to balance what our oncs tell us with what feels right for our individual bodies, dx and lifestyle.     Deanna

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears" Native American proverb

Dx 2/1/2008, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Dx 1/3/2014, Stage IV
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Dec 2, 2012 02:14PM Denise-G wrote:

I drank over 10,000 protein shakes and bars over the course of 5 years on a hospital supervised diet.  They contained large amounts of soy protein isolate.

At the end of the 5 years when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer - triple positive - my very credentialed breast surgeon at the Univ of Michigan, who did NOT KNOW of my consumption of such large amounts of soy protein isolate, told me, "From this day forward, do not eat or drink anything with soy protein isolate contained in it.  Normal soy in moderation is okay, but not processed soy."

Then I contacted a soy research expert at a well-known university.  He believed that the soy protein isolate did not cause my BC, but contributed to its size and growth (6 cm tumor). 

I stay away from anything with soy protein isolate.  I do eat regular soy in very limited amounts.  It is highly estrogenic.

Please check out my BC blog www.denise4health.info

Dx 10/10/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 9/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+Surgery 11/23/2011 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 12/27/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolTargeted Therapy 02/28/2012 HerceptinRadiation Therapy 06/06/2012 External
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Dec 2, 2012 04:17PM, edited Dec 2, 2012 04:18PM by Momine

I will ditto the advice about eating whole, healthy foods. If you skip the processed foods, it also means that you skip a lot of sugars, soy derivatives and various mystery ingredients. It is bound to be healthier overall and may also offer some protection against further cancer.

The way I see it, the healthier I am, the better I will live, whatever happens with the stupid cancer. Should the stupid cancer come back, I will still be better off if my baseline health is good.

So, I don't do anything too crazy, because that is not sustainable for me. But I have cut back on wine, meat, sweets and white starches. Typically I eat about 150 grams of carbs a day and they come from whole grain bread, muesli, fruit, 70% chocolate, sweet potatoes, lentils, quinoa etc. Protein comes mostly from fish, some from lean poultry and even less from a few eggs per week, a little milk (in coffee and on muesli) and paltry amounts of cheese. I avoid processed stuff, including prosciutto, bacon etc. I don't eat any soy products, but I didn't really before either.

Dx 6/1/2011, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIb, Grade 2, 7/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Chemotherapy 06/20/2011 Cytoxan, Ellence, fluorouracil, TaxotereSurgery 09/13/2011 Mastectomy (Both)Radiation Therapy 01/09/2012 ExternalSurgery 03/08/2012 Prophylactic Ovary Removal (Both)Hormonal Therapy 04/01/2012 Femara
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Jan 12, 2013 11:36PM Njlane wrote:

I have been reading the book Foods to Fight Cancer by Richard Béliveau, Ph.D. and Denis Gingras, Ph.D. And when discussing soy it says:

"the isoflavone content of foods derived from soybeans is important because these molecules have the capacity to influence the number of events associated with the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. The principal isoflavones in soybeans are genistein and daidzein. An important characteristic of isoflavones is their striking resemblance, at the molecular level, to the class of female hormones known as estrogens, this is the reason isoflavones are often referred to as phytoestrogens. Most researchers interested in the anticancer potential of soybeans believe genistein to be the primary molecule responsible for that potential, due to its ability to BLOCK the action of enzymes involved in the uncontrolled growth of tumor cells and thus stop cell growth outright.

In addition to their effects on the proteins involved in the growth of breast or prostate cells, phytoestrogens may also act as antiestrogens, thereby decreasing cell response to these hormones.

Genistein is able to bond to an estrogen receptor site, but this affinity is weaker than that of estrogen for estrogen receptors, and does not induce as strong a response as that provoked by the hormone itself. However, the similarity in structure between genistein and estrogens ALLOWS THE GENISTEIN MOLECULE TO BLOCK THE SITE ON THE RECEPTOR TO WHICH THE ESTROGEN WOULD NORMALLY ATTACH ITSELF, IN EFFECT REDUCING ITS ACCESS. This reduced access has the effect of decreasing overall binding to the receptor, which in turn reduces the biological effects that would occur as a result if this binding.

Hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers, are the primary causes of death from cancer in the West, but are rare in Asia."

It goes on to cite studies and such and how when Asians migrate to the USA and adopt our western diet their risk rises to where ours is.

Dx 11/20/2012, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-Dx 2/27/2014, IDC, Stage IV, ER+/PR+, HER2-Chemotherapy 12/13/2012 Adriamycin, CytoxanChemotherapy 02/21/2013 TaxolSurgery 05/17/2013 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left); Prophylactic Mastectomy (Right); Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Radiation Therapy 07/10/2013 ExternalHormonal Therapy 09/10/2013 Tamoxifen
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Jan 26, 2013 09:09PM Shellies wrote:

What about topical items that have soy in them...???  (Vitamin E oil's first ingredient is, of course, SOY!)  Should lotions be avoided too, or merely ingestibles?!

Dx 11/28/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 1, 1/36 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 01/16/2012 Mastectomy (Both)Hormonal Therapy 02/13/2012 TamoxifenChemotherapy 04/09/2012 Cytoxan, TaxotereSurgery 07/23/2012 Reconstruction: Latissimus Dorsi flap (Right)Surgery 10/19/2012 Prophylactic Ovary Removal (Both)
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Jun 4, 2013 10:21AM FireflyFarms wrote:

I don't know if this is useful, but Firefly Farms in North Stonington, Connecticut has soy free pork and (soon) soy free chicken. We take a great deal of pride in the humane way we raise our animals.  The pigs are forest raised and the chicken are organic method and (truly) pasture raised.  We also have organic method pigs, but they have a minimal amount of soy in their diet.  We can send our pork out of Connecticut.  We we went through the challenges of custom making a soy free feed for our animals to help those fighting breast cancer and soy allergies. My sister is 8 years clear.  My adopted mother 3.  Van Brown, Firefly Farms (Facebook Firefly Farms) or 860.917-7568, info@fireflyfarmsllc.com.

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Jun 4, 2013 05:59PM Denise-G wrote:

FireflyFarms--wow, good for you!!  That is wonderful news!!   I am very impressed by the hard work that this takes.  I will definitely be checking it out.  Thank you!

Please check out my BC blog www.denise4health.info

Dx 10/10/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 9/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+Surgery 11/23/2011 Mastectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Chemotherapy 12/27/2011 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolTargeted Therapy 02/28/2012 HerceptinRadiation Therapy 06/06/2012 External
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Jun 18, 2013 12:22PM mumofone wrote:

I've read a lot of different things about soy, good and bad. I belong to the 'everything in moderation' camp. I have found myself cutting down on sugary food (much to my husband's dismay - he has a very sweet tooth!) and restricting alcohol to special events. I've not eaten any tofu or soy sauce or anything obviously 'soy' since diagnosis, but yesterday I was munching through a very healthy salad for lunch when I realised that some of the beans were soy beans... hmm... I finished the salad :).

My mum had breast cancer too, in her forties, and she did EVERYTHING wrong - smoked, drank, ate whatever she liked - and survived for 20 years after diagnosis. I'm not suggesting we all do that, and I do make an effort because I intend to survive even longer, but it's why I try to be moderate!

Dx: Mar 2013 / Lumpectomy+Mastectomy: Grade 1 IDC (mucinous) & DCIS, 4.1cm, ER+/PR+ HER2-, 0/3 nodes