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Soy & Cancer, what I have found


In recent years I have talked to breast cancer survivors about getting them on a healthier life style and diet. As we spoke about diet, soy has always come to the surface as a hazardous food that they were told to avoid by their doctor.

I would ask why the doctor told them this and the reply was always something like this “Soy foods contain estrogen that could feed cancer cells in their body and thus start their cancer again.

The internet has not helped the issue either with anti-soy propaganda that is not scientific and lacks integrity.

Now, with that said I want to state that you should always follow your doctors treatment plan. I am not in anyway saying that you should ignore your doctor if they have told you not to consume soy products, but I am only presenting what I have found in my limited research about this subject.

I am seeing that this kind of prescription to stay away from soy foods is starting to go by the way side because there is a alot of scientific evidence now showing that whole soy foods are not only safe for cancer survivors but even healthful.

When eating soy it should always be eaten in its minimally processed forms like edamame, tempeh, tofu and unsweetened soy milk. Products containing unnaturally concentrated soy protein like protein powders and highly processed soy products lack the beneficial nutrients that are in the whole bean and in my opinion these products should be avoided. I also stay away from genetically modified soy (GMO). Choose “organic” soybean products, they are not genetically modified.

The research has overwhelmingly shown that the consumption of whole or minimally processed soy foods as discussed above is healthful and provides many nutritional benefits.

The research shows that these foods protect against breast cancer. A study done in 2009 meta-analysis on soy and prostate cancer found that a higher intake of soy was associated with a 26% reduction in risk.- (1)

Also it appears that isoflavones found in whole soy foods have anti-cancer effects that are not related to their ability to bind the estrogen receptor. Soy foods are not only associated with decreased risk of hormonal cancers, but also lung, stomach, and colorectal cancers. – (2-4) 

Here is a quote from Dr. McCullough who is strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society on soy:

 “More research is needed to understand the relationship between specific forms of soy and doses of isoflavones on cancer risk and recurrence. We also need to learn more about childhood exposure to isoflavones and risk of cancer. Until more is known, if you enjoy eating soy foods, the evidence indicates that this is safe, and may be beneficial (but note that miso, a fermented soy product, is high in sodium.)  It is prudent to avoid high doses of isolated soy compounds found specifically in supplements, as less is known about their health effects. As for other “hidden” sources of soy proteins, the evidence to date does not suggest harm or benefit. However, if you are concerned about these products, you can choose to avoid them.”  4/8/14 Link to complete and original quote

Here is a quote from the American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention:

Can soy-based foods reduce cancer risk? As with other beans or legumes, soy and foods derived from soy are an excellent source of protein and a good alternative to meat. Soy contains several phytochemicals, including isoflavones, which have weak estrogen-like activity and may help protect against hormone-dependent cancers. There is growing evidence that eating traditional soy foods such as tofu may lower the risk of cancers of the breast, prostate, or endometrium (lining of the uterus), and there is some evidence it may lower the risk of other cancers. Whether this applies to foods that contain soy protein isolates or textured vegetable protein derived from soy is not known. There is little data to support the use of supplements of isolated soy phytochemicals for reducing cancer risk.” Link to the entire document in PDF

They have observed many times the connection between minimally processed soy intake and the reduced risk of cancers.

This is not to say or do I promote eating a lot of soy foods in the detriment of leaving out other foods from your diet. All whole foods work together for our health and there is no magical super-food that on its own will be the “One”, but on the contrary, you need them all to be wholly healthy. (Here is a bonus tip at no extra charge. An outstanding book to read on the subject of how whole foods work together for optimal nutrition is the book “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition” by T. Colin Campbell. PhD)

Not only are soy beans healthy but all beans eaten in variety, along with other fruits and vegetable are health promoting as they work together, not alone.

In conclusion, I am avoiding highly processed soy foods and I try to eat a variety of whole natural plant foods including all types of beans as well as some edamame, tofu and tempeh.

1. Hwang YW, Kim SY, Jee SH, et al: Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:598-606.
2. Yang WS, Va P, Wong MY, et al: Soy intake is associated with lower lung cancer risk: results from a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:1575-1583.
3. Kim J, Kang M, Lee JS, et al: Fermented and non-fermented soy food consumption and gastric cancer in Japanese and Korean populations: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Cancer Sci 2011;102:231-244.
4. Yan L, Spitznagel EL, Bosland MC: Soy consumption and colorectal cancer risk in humans: a meta-analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010;19:148-158.

Photo Credit: Will Curran

Coffee, Caffeine & Your Health

Coffee has become almost an American icon, and has definitely become one in cities such as Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

I just love the taste of a cup of coffee or a frothy sweet latte. I can almost taste the tall soy, decaf, white chocolate mocha, no whip latte kissing my lips. Man those Italians sure knew how to kick up that coffee bean to the next level.

And I do indulge in a cup once in a while. But I only do so as a treat. I might have a cup of coffee or a latte once every two to three months on an average.

Now the information about the health hazards or the benefits of drinking coffee varies greatly. Depending on the study and who is doing the study. There are some recent studies that suggests that coffee is good for you. Here is a link to WebMD’s article “Say it’s so, Joe: The potential health benefits — and drawbacks –- of coffee.” Here is a link to a Huffington post article “7 Health Benefits of Coffee” It looks as though there might be some health benefits in drinking coffee. But read these articles carefully and decide for your own health which way the scale tips.

At the least I believe that caffeine is an addictive drug that can lead to many unhealthy health conditions and I believe that coffee and caffeine are not good for your health as a whole.

I have done some research and found that if these studies are correct and you were to weigh them on a scale, the unhealthy attributes hugely outweigh the positive. And certainly this article nor the WebMD’s or Huffington Post’s articles are exhaustive on this subject and there is much more to be studied and said regarding coffee and health.

You be the judge, here is some of the evidence on Coffee. (these are older studies)

A dose of 500-600 MG (5-6 six ounce cups) of caffeine a day presents a significant health risk.
British Journal of Addiction 78:251-258, 1988

If you drink 3 cups a day, you triple your risk of getting pancreatic cancer. (1)

If you drink 2 cups a day, you double the risk of getting fatal bladder cancer. (2)
If you drink 2 cups a day, you raise your risk of getting colon cancer 250%. (3)
If you drink 3 cups a day, you raise your risk of getting fibrocystic disease. (4)
If you drink 3 cups a day, you increase breast cancer risk.(4)
If you drink 2 cups a day, you increase ovarian cancer risk. (5)
If you drink 1 cup a day, you double female bladder cancer risk. (6)
1: NEJM 304:630-633, 1981      2 : AMJ of Pub. Health 820-823, 1984      3: Family Pract. News 116(18), 1986 4: Surgery 86:105-109, 1979       5: Int’l J of Cancer 28(6)691-693, 1981     6: Medical World News 63-73, 1/26/76

Caffeine and Iron Absorption

A cup of coffee reduces iron absorption by 39%, and a cup of tea leaf tea will reduce it by 64%.
Drip coffee will lower iron absorption by 72%, and if you double the coffee’s strength it will reduce it by 91%! While good old orange juice with its vitamin C may increase iron absorption in a meal by 250%!
AMJ of Clinical Nurtr. 37:416-420, 1983      AMJ of Nurtr. 32:2484-2489, 1979

Caffeine and Heart Disease

Caffeine can increase the heart rate. (1)
Caffeine can cause frequent, irregular beats. (1)
Caffeine can raise blood cholesterol. (2)
Caffeine can accelerate blood clotting, leading to heart attack.(3)
Five cups of coffee a day may increase heart disease risk by 300%. (4)
1:Primary Cardiology 10/84 104-110      2: AMJ of Epidemiology 128:124-136, 1988
3: Biochemical Journal 109(5)841-849    4: NEJM 315(6)977-982, 1986

Caffeine and High Blood Pressure

It can make the antihypertensive medication ineffective because it raises blood pressure. (1)
Two to three cups of coffee raises diastolic BP for 3 hours. (2)
Two cups a day can raise BP 20%. (3)
(1) Psychosomatic Medicine 45:447-451, 1983      (2) AMJ of Hypertension 7:755-758, 1994      (3) Psychosomatic Medicine 52:320-336, 1990

Here is a link to an article “The hidden dangers of caffeine: How coffee causes exhaustion, fatigue and addiction

But What about Decaf?

Well you might say “I’ll just drink de-caffeinated coffee.” But decaf is not the answer either. Even decaffeinated coffee has hundreds of chemicals that are harmful to the human body and are related to either cancer or heart disease. Remember whether you’re drinking decaffeinated or regular coffee, one cup a day raises the risk of bladder cancer by three times.

Chart of caffeine content in foods

SIDE BAR: Diet and Cancer

     Few people realize that one third of all cancers of the human body occur within the stomach. And that one half of all cancers are found in the organs of the digestion, including the liver, pancreas, small intestine and the colon. By abstaining from smoking, alcohol, and other damaging chemicals you will feel better and quite possibly keep from getting cancer, having a heart attack or some other horrible disease. A matter of fact the odds are for you. Studies from the American Institute for Cancer Research show how your diet is directly related to cancer. In the article “The Diet and Cancer Link” they state that there is almost 1.4 million new cancers cases in the U.S. each year, and more than 500,000 deaths from this disease.

They also state in one of their articles “Reducing Your Cancer Risk” “It’s estimated that 60% to 70% of cancers in the U.S. could be prevented through healthy diets, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.” This article tells you how to reduce your cancer risk. Two of the recommendations are 1. “Choose a diet rich in a variety of plant based foods” 2. “Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.”

They have also released a diet and cancer report entitled “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective” The American Heart Association has set Dietary Guidelines for Healthy American Adults,  these are reports and articles worth your time to read and heed! Not only should we watch what we eat but also what we drink. Caffeine and the sugar we drink are two very dangerous chemicals to our bodies. Click here to read any or all of AICR’s articles online.

Coffee Alternatives

So now that I have totally bummed you out about coffee and caffeine let me offer you up some alternatives. Now these are a bit different tasting than coffee but like everything else once you have gotten used to the replacement you will be just fine with it and even crave it. Becoming healthy takes change, time and persistence.

For a healthy alternative to Coffee try either Teeccino herbal coffee, Pero, Postum or Kaffree Roma. And don’t forget herbal teas.


Teeccino Herbal Coffee is the top selling coffee alternative in America. Available in two flavor lines to satisfy the preferences of coffee lovers. Teeccino’s Mediterranean flavors have a rich full-bodied, complex flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty from dates, figs and almonds. Teeccino’s Maya flavors are perfect for the coffee purist who prefers a more intense coffee profile without any sweetness.


Looking for a natural alternative to coffee and tea? Your search is over. PERO is a 100% natural beverage with a coffee like taste. It’s 100% naturally caffeine free and blended from select all natural ingredients–malted barley, chicory, and rye. And because PERO contains no stimulants, it will not elevate heart rate or blood pressure, cause sleeplessness or create any adverse physical ailments typically associated with caffeine consumption. Plus the low acidity of this natural beverage makes it easy to enjoy morning, noon or night without the fear of stomach upset.

PERO can be mixed with your favorite ingredients to create your own hot drink specialties to relax and enjoy. So, take a break– and make PERO the beverage of choice for you and your family.

Postum is a great hot beverage that is 100% natural and naturally caffeine-free. With a coffee like flavor, its a great alternative to decaf coffee which still contains 7 to 10 percent caffeine. Even back in the 1890’s Postum was used as a coffee substitute to promote a healthier lifestyle.

 Cold Carob/Postum cooler

   When you want a coffee drink or coffee ice cream you can make one of these. Don’t let the ingredients stop you.

 1 Tablespoon carob powder 1 1/2 teaspoons Postum 2 Tablespoons boiling water 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dark molasses 4 oz. cold vanilla soymilk Ice cubes as needed to fill mug. Put the boiling water in the bottom of a large coffee mug. Stir in the carob powder and the Postum. Add the molasses and stir until dissolved. Add the soymilk and ice cubes to fill the mug. Add water if needed. Makes one serving. Optional–I often throw the ice cubes and soy milk in the Vita Mixer to crush the ice and then I mix it all together in a mug.

Kaffree Roma Roasted Grain Beverage

This roasted grain beverage is both delicious and satisfying. Enjoy the taste of coffee without caffeine, tannic acids or coffee beans. Have a cup any place any time, even right before bed time.

To make an espresso drink out of any one of these coffee alternatives just brew it strong like espresso (it does takes a little experimenting to get it the right strength)  and make your drink as you would normally do and enjoy.

Although the science on this subject falls on both sides and is not decisive. I hope this article has been helpful to your journey to health. Please feel free to comment or share a favorite recipe for your coffee alternative.

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