Soy Foods, Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds Reduce Breast Cancer Risk






 

A new study links the consumption of soy foods, pumpkins seeds, and sunflower seeds with a decreased risk of breast cancer.


 

 

SOY FOODS, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS REDUCE BREAST CANCER RISK

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, phytoestrogens are substances found in plant-based foods that have weak estrogen-like effects in the body.  As estrogen is a known risk factor for breast cancer, there has been understandable concern that phytoestrogens, if consumed regularly, may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer over time.  While the data supporting this hypothesis has been both weak and contradictory thus far, some of the strongest available data regarding phytoestrogen intake and breast cancer risk has, counterintuitively, linked certain phytoestrogen-rich foods, and especially soy foods like tofu, with a decreased lifetime risk of breast cancer, particularly when consumed before and during the onset of puberty, as I discuss in my book.

Now, a newly published German study further suggests that the regular consumption of at least some phytoestrogen-rich foods may significantly decrease breast cancer risk, particularly later in life, after menopause.  In this public health study, 2,884 postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,509 age-matched “controls” without breast cancer underwent detailed assessments of their dietary habits.  In addition to using a scientifically validated food-frequency questionnaire, additional specific questions regarding the consumption of phytoestrogen-rich foods were asked of all of the 8,393 women who participated in this case-control clinical study.  Importantly, the volunteers’ individual risk factors for breast cancer were assessed and accounted for when the study’s researchers analyzed their data.  This public health study appears in the current issue of the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

Among all foods known to contain phytoestrogens, three foods were found to be significantly associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women.  Specifically, the regular consumption of soy foods was linked to a 17 percent reduction in breast cancer risk, while the routine intake of sunflower and pumpkin seeds was associated with a 34 percent reduction in breast cancer risk.  At the same time, the consumption of flaxseed, which contains very high levels of phytoestrogens, did not appear to be linked with a decrease in breast cancer risk in this study.

The results of this study add further evidence that at least some forms of phytoestrogens may actually decrease the risk of breast cancer, even though they are able to weakly stimulate the same hormonal receptors that estrogen normally stimulates.  While this finding may at first seem contradictory, recent research has shown that these plant-derived nutritional substances actually have rather complex effects on estrogen receptors within breast cells and other hormone-sensitive cells.  In fact, in many cases, phytoestrogens may actually block the effects of estrogen on estrogen receptors within breast cells, thus acting more like medications that are regularly used to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in patients with estrogen-sensitive tumors, including tamoxifen and raloxifene.

I will end my review of this new public health study by reminding readers that studies such as this one rely upon relatively weak research methods, and the findings of these types of public health studies are less compelling, in general, than “gold standard” prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical research studies.  Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of cancer prevention research data published to date has been derived from relatively less powerful public health studies like this particular study.  However, given the enormous expense and resources necessary to perform large prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical studies, and the extended period of time that is required to arrive at meaningful observations within such studies, we are left primarily with questionnaire-based public health studies such as this one in an effort to better understand potential links between diet and cancer risk.  For a much more detailed evidence-based discussion of the impact of diet and other lifestyle factors on cancer risk, purchase your copy of A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race from your favorite bookstore (available in both print and e-book formats).


At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 






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New Drug Dramatically Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”




NEW DRUG DRAMATICALLY REDUCES BREAST CANCER RISK

Known risk factors for breast cancer include: (1) age greater than 60, (2) a previous personal history of breast cancer or precancerous conditions of the breast (such as atypical lobular hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ, atypical ductal hyperplasia, or ductal carcinoma in situ), (3) one or more first degree relatives with breast cancer, (4) A personal history or family history of BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 hereditary breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations, (5) not having children, or having children after age 35, (6) multiple prior breast biopsies for non-cancer lumps, and (7) early-onset of menstruation, or late onset of menopause, as well as other less powerful breast cancer risk factors.

There are very few prescription medications available that significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer. However, for women who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer, the so-called SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) can significantly reduce breast cancer risk. The most widely prescribed SERM is tamoxifen, which has been shown to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer, in high-risk women, by nearly 50 percent. However, while tamoxifen is commonly prescribed for women who have hormone-sensitive breast cancer (because this drug also reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence in such cases), it is not widely prescribed for cancer prevention purposes.

There are several reasons why tamoxifen is not frequently prescribed as a breast cancer prevention medication. First of all, tamoxifen is most commonly prescribed by Oncologists, and so most primary care physicians are not comfortable enough with this medication to prescribe it. Secondly, tamoxifen has been associated with potentially serious side effects, including an increased risk of uterine cancer, blood clots in the veins and lungs, and cataracts. (Another SERM, raloxifene, does not appear to significantly increase the risk of uterine cancer, but this medication otherwise has the same potential side effects as tamoxifen.)

A new class of estrogen-blocking medications, aromatase inhibitors, is now commonly used in place of tamoxifen as hormone-blocking therapy in postmenopausal patients with breast cancer. Although aromatase inhibitors, like virtually all medications, have side effects of their own, they are not known to be associated with an increased risk of cancer or potentially life-threatening blood clots, like tamoxifen, and they appear to be even more effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence than tamoxifen and other SERMs.

Now, a newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, has revealed that exemestane, an aromatase inhibitor, appears to be even more effective in preventing breast cancer than tamoxifen (as well as being safer, in terms of side effects, than tamoxifen).

This clinical research trial was a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study (which is the “gold standard” method of performing clinical research). A total of 4,560 women, ages 35 and older (the average age was 63 years), were enrolled in this clinical research study, and were secretly and randomly assigned to receive either exemestane or an identical-appearing placebo (“sugar pill”). These patient volunteers, all of whom were at increased risk of developing breast cancer, were then followed for an average of about 3 years.

By the end of the study, 11 women in the exemestane (treatment) group had developed breast cancer, while 32 women in the placebo (control) group were diagnosed with breast cancer. These findings translated into a 65 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer associated with the use of exemestane in these high-risk women.

Although the prolonged use of aromatase inhibitors can lead to osteoporosis (“thinning” of the bones), there was no increase in the incidence of bone fractures or other skeletal complications noted among the women who took exemestane during the course of this research study. (Aromatase inhibitors can also cause significant bone and joint pain.) Indeed, during the course of this clinical study, there were no significant differences between the exemestane group and the placebo group in terms of side effects or complications.

Therefore, this breakthrough clinical research study showed that an aromatase inhibitor, exemestane, was more effective in preventing breast cancer in high risk women than tamoxifen and other SERMs; and unlike tamoxifen, exemestane did not appear to be associated with any significant side effects or complications following three years of treatment. Because of this clinically important combination of greater effectiveness and fewer side effects, this study’s findings are highly likely to change recommendations for the “chemoprevention” of breast cancer in women who are at an elevated risk of developing this most common of cancers in women. (One important caveat to note is that aromatase inhibitors, unlike tamoxifen and other SERMS, can only be used in postmenopausal women.)



 

For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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