A recent analysis of several studies about soy* consumption concluded that women who eat the most soy may decrease the likelihood of developing ovarian or uterine cancers by up to 40 percent. The December 2009 analysis, published in BJOG, An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, examined the data from 169,000 women, including about 2 percent who had one of the two types of cancer. Their findings suggest that women who regularly consume soy or soy components from foods such as legumes, soy curd, or soy protein were less likely to have either cancer.
As the researchers pointed out, this is not definitive proof that a daily dose of tofu will protect you from ovarian or uterine cancers, but we have other evidence that eating soy can be very beneficial. An earlier study of the eating habits of people who lived to be 100+ in Okinawa, Japan, (the largest population of centenarians in the world) concluded that about two servings a day of whole soy foods (tofu is a staple in their diets), may be one of the main reasons they found 80 percent fewer heart attacks and 75 percent fewer hormone-dependent cancers, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon compared to Americans.
Soy lives a complicated life in the American diet, thanks to its most common format, soybean oil. Soybean oil accounts for about two thirds of all vegetable oils or animal fats consumed in this country. And nearly 90 percent of all soy is genetically modified.
Whole soy products should be your focus when you choose soy as a healthy life choice. Your choices these days are endless, as creative food producers have made great strides to create great-tasting non-GMO or organic whole soy products. Far beyond tofu and edamame of yesteryear, today you can choose soy yogurts, soy burgers, soy milk, soy nuts and more – even soy ice cream! The point is to incorporate healthful iterations of soy into your diet to benefit from its best health benefits.
For more information, read my series on soy at DrGreene.com.