Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Soy and fish lower cancer risk

Soy and fish lower cancer risk

Thursday, 16 November 2006
Soy and fish lower cancer risk
Eating fish several times a week could lower the risk of cancer.
Credit: iStockphoto

WASHINGTON: Diets high in soy and fish may lower the risk of cancer, two new studies have revealed.

In one study, presented at a meeting in Boston of the American Association for Cancer Research, women who ate soy regularly as children were found to have a lower risk of breast cancer later in life.

A second study presented at the same meeting found that men who ate fish several times a week had a lower risk of colon cancer.

This new research adds to a growing body of evidence about the role of diet in cancer. Experts now believe that up to two-thirds of all cancers come from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and lack of exercise.

Larissa Korde of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues at the University of Hawaii studied 597 Asian-American women with breast cancer and 966 women without the disease. The mothers of some of the women were also available to answer questions about what they fed their daughters as children.

The women who ate the most soy-based foods such as tofu and miso when aged five to 11 reduced their risk of developing breast cancer by 58 per cent, the researchers found.

"Childhood soy intake was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk in our study, suggesting that the timing of soy intake may be especially critical," Korde said.

It is not clear how soy might prevent cancer, although compounds in soy called isoflavones have oestrogen-like effects.

A second study presented at the same meeting showed that men who ate fish five times a week or more had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to men who ate fish less than once a week.
Megan Phillips of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues analysed data from 22,071 men volunteering for a large, ongoing study of physicians.

"We already know that eating fish can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, and this might provide another reason to add fish to your diet," said Phillips.

Many kinds of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which in turn interfere with the cyclooxygenase-2 or COX-2 enzyme. COX-2 affects inflammation, which may play a role in tumour growth.

Men who ate the most fish had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer over the next 19 years, the researchers found. Eating fish twice a week lowered the risk by 13 per cent. Aspirin did not add any extra benefit or risk.

A separate study published on Monday found that eating red meat raised the risk of breast cancer in women.

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