Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk

May 9, 2010 by  
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Welcome to Weekly Health Update

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


There is a great deal of interest regarding the potential effects of soy-based foods (like tofu and soy beverages) on cancer risk.  As discussed in my forthcoming book (“A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race”), there is a growing body of laboratory and human research data suggesting that dietary soy isoflavones might be able to reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

Now, a newly published clinical research study from Korea suggests that high levels of soy isoflavones in the blood may also be linked to a reduced risk of stomach cancer, as well.  (Korea has one of the highest incidences of stomach cancer in the world.)  This study appears in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

As most of the published research in the area of cancer prevention is based upon the subjective recall of patient volunteers regarding their diet (and other habits), the authors of this study chose, instead, to directly measure the levels of soy isoflavones in the blood of patient volunteers.  This study included 131 patients with recently diagnosed stomach cancer, and 393 “control” patients who did not have stomach (gastric) cancer.  Blood levels of the two major dietary soy isoflavones (genistein and daidzein) were directly measured in all 524 of these research volunteers, and these results were compared between the patients with stomach cancer and the “control” patients without gastric cancer.

Study volunteers with the highest levels of genistein in their blood, when compared with those with the lowest levels, were found to be 46 percent less likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Even more impressive was the finding that study volunteers with the highest daidzein blood levels were 79 percent less likely to be diagnosed with stomach cancer when compared to the volunteers with the lowest levels of daidzen in their blood

While there may be other health-related factors at work among the study volunteers with high levels of soy isoflavones in their blood that could explain the much lower stomach cancer risk observed in these same patients, this study’s results are nonetheless intriguing enough to justify a large scale, prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled soy isoflavone clinical research study to confirm the findings of this relatively small Korean public health study.


To learn more about the role of soy isoflavones as potential cancer prevention nutrients, look for the publication of my new landmark evidence-based book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the summer of this year.

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, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author

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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  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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