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The Many Health Benefits of Soy, Including Possible Protection Against Breast Cancer and Relief of Menopausal Symptoms

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Soy is slowly but surely gaining in popularity in our country. Many people are eating it or taking it in supplement form on a regular basis because of the variety of ways that soy and its active ingredient, isoflavones, may help our health.

Two forms of isoflavone that may be especially good at possibly helping us ward off hormone-related health issues are called genistein and daidzein. They have been found to help protect us against breast cancer and endometriosis. The way that these isoflavones do this is pretty fascinating—basically, they fight for the same space on the cells or receptor sites that the body’s own estrogen is trying to also get. By doing this, estrogen levels should naturally lower and the risks that are associated with excessive estrogen, which include uterine and breast cancer, may be possibly lowered.

On the flip side of this, as women go through menopause and our natural levels of estrogen begin to drop, if you take soy during this time the same genistein and daidzein get to work by binding to some of the cell sites where estrogen once did. As a result, menopausal symptoms may improve.

So that’s really pretty neat if you think about it—if you don’t need the hormones in your body, soy isoflavones appear to realize that and adjust themselves appropriately. But if you are lower in hormones than you should be, the isoflavones automatically do what they can to make your levels rise. Talk about your smart food!

Research has also found that soy isoflavones may prevent cancer-causing enzymes from doing there thing. They are natural antioxidants too and have been shown to help boost the immune system.

In case you are wondering, numerous studies have been conducted on soy. Fro example, one study found that when taken regularly, soy may reduce the severity and also the frequency of menopause-related symptoms like hot flashes and other unpleasant issues. One study in particular found that women who took 30 mg of soy isoflavones, or 15 mg of genistein every day reduced their hot flashes by almost 50 percent.

Soy may also help prevent osteoporosis. A number of studies have shown that taking soy may aid women in keeping their current levels of bone mineral density. But on the other hand, other studies show that soy has no effect on this health issue. This variety of outcomes may be due to the way the studies were designed or due to dietary, exercise or other reasons.

Finally, as we said earlier, soy may help guard against “hormone-related” cancers, including breast, prostate and endometrium cancer. For example, one study found that women who ate a lot of soy products as well as other foods rich in phytoestrogens lowered their risk of endometrial cancer by 54 percent.

Soy definitely does seem to show promise as a natural remedy to treat hot flashes and other more serious health conditions. But life is too short to force yourself to eat foods that you don’t really enjoy. If you do decide to give soy a try, you may always look for it in supplement form. That way, you will get the proven benefits of soy but without having to prepare it and eat it.




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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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