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Soy, fish link to lower cancer risk

20th November 2006

20112006_fishandsoybeans.jpg Soy products like tofu and miso have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer, while fish consumption is apparently linked to reduced incidence of colorectal cancers in men, two new studies have found.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in Washington, one of the funders of the research, said that the results of the two studies seemed promising, although full findings have yet to be published.

However, it warned consumers against rushing to load up on these foodstuffs, as they did not constitute 'magic bullets' against cancer.

The studies, presented at a recent cancer research conference, carried out controlled investigations into a well-known correlation between soy consumption and reduced breast cancer rates in certain populations.

One study investigated the impact of childhood impact of soy products on breast cancer risk. It involved 597 Asian-American breast cancer patients and 966 Asian-American women without disease as a control group.

In the study, women who reported eating the most soy foods such as tofu and miso between ages 5 and 11 had a 58 percent lower risk for breast cancer than women who ate the least. Among adolescents and young adults, smaller reductions in risk were observed.

Certain cells are thought to be more sensitive to dietary influences at specific stages of life. Laboratory studies involving soy and breast cancer funded by AICR have demonstrated that, in animal models, such "windows of opportunity" occur during childhood and early adolescence, while breast tissues are developing.

Meanwhile, the Physicians' Health Study, which involves 22,071 men, suggest that those who said they ate fish five or more times a week had 40 per cent lower of risk of colorectal cancer than participants who said they ate it rarely or never.

The reported results from a dietary questionnaire given to participants were closely in line with published research. Omega-3 fatty acids (contained in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, bluefish, ocean trout, herring and mackerel) have been shown, in laboratory studies, to combat the kind of inflammation often associated with cancer development. These fatty acids have also stopped or slowed the growth of several different kinds of tumours in animals.

The studies were presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Boston.



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