Vitasoy promotes the bean for breast health

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Breast cancer Soybean

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and Vitasoy is
trying to undo what it says is a misperception regarding soy and
breast cancer.

Vitasoy recently announced the launch of a breast health education initiative that includes samples and a newsletter as part of the month's breast health activities. "Soymilk is safe for people with a history of cancer when it is taken as part of a healthy diet,"​ said cancer nutrition specialist and epidemiologist Suzanne Dixon, for Vitasoy. "It also supports overall health because it is cholesterol-free, high in protein, and a good source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals."​ There has been controversy surrounding soy's role in hormonally-related cancers, and Vitasoy is out to remove this associated from consumers' minds. Soy isoflavones are well known phytoestrogens - active substances derived from plants that have a weak oestrogen-like action. The incidence of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is said to be increasing in the US, particularly among women in the 40 to 69 year old bracket. Hormone receptor-negative breast cancer incidence has not been changing. Breast cancers marked by the excessive production of oestrogen receptors (ER+ breast cancers) form the majority of breast cancers and are often associated with obesity. Over one million women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, with the highest incidences in the US and the Netherlands. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 13 percent of American women will develop breast cancer during their lives. Vitasoy's message is that the benefits of soy products can be derived when eaten as part of a well-balanced diet. "There is plenty of research that soymilk and some other soy foods can be a part of a healthy diet, however,"​ said Dixon. "….You need to focus on total diet improvement for the best cancer prevention benefit."​ In order to expand the breast health connotation of soy product, Vitasoy has specially-designed pink containers of chocolate organic soymilks that they call 'pinkies'. They bear the breast health movement's pink ribbon symbol and an invitation to sign up for the company's breast health online newsletter. Some scientists point the finger at soy-derived dietary supplements as negatively affecting these types of cancers. "Studies show that soy supplements, since they don't use the whole soy bean, may not be safe for individuals with hormone-sensitive cancer, but there is no definitive research yet," said Dixon. Population studies have shown that a diet rich in soy is associated with fewer cases of breast cancer, linked to the presence of soy isoflavones. China has the world's lowest incidence and mortality from breast cancer.

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