Those Who Like Soy Are Better Protected Against Lung Cancer

People who eat soy are apparently better protected against lung cancer than people who do not like soy products, as shown in various studies. It is probably the antioxidant isoflavones from the soybean that is responsible for the protective effect.

Soy and Lung Cancer

Soy products are sometimes referred to as harmful and even carcinogenic. If this were the case, however, it would also have to be possible to identify a corresponding connection in epidemiological studies. Those groups in the population that eat the most soy products should be more likely to get cancer. However, the opposite is the case, as we will show below using the example of lung cancer.

Simply not smoking does not protect against lung cancer

Lung cancer is the form of cancer responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths worldwide – in both developed and developing countries. Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer, so that a quarter of all lung cancer patients probably only developed it because they smoked. But that also means that 75 percent of all lung cancer cases have nothing to do with smoking. So if not smoking alone is not protective, what could be done to prevent lung cancer from developing?

Proper nutrition reduces the risk of lung cancer

Proper nutrition is an important preventive factor. Sugar, for example, should be avoided as a diet high in sugar can increase the risk of lung cancer, while a diet high in fiber and plenty of fruit and vegetables protects the lungs. It is known from animal and in-vitro studies that soy also has a protective effect against cancer. In these studies, the high isoflavone content of soybeans was able to inhibit the development of cancer and lead to a better prognosis in the case of existing cancer.

Soy isoflavones inhibit cancer

The isoflavones inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis and also counteract oxidative stress, so they also belong to the group of antioxidants. Angiogenesis (relating to cancer) is the formation of new blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tumor, causing it to grow faster and leading to a poorer prognosis.

Isoflavones are plant substances from the flavonoid group. They are particularly found in soybeans, but they can also be found in smaller amounts in peas, chickpeas, and beans. The typical soy isoflavones are called genistein and daidzein.

Since the consumption of soy has been shown in epidemiological studies to be helpful and protective in hormone-dependent forms of cancer (breast, uterine and ovarian cancer), it is believed that isoflavones bind to the estrogen receptor and thereby limit cancer development or cancer progression break. Because if the isoflavones block the estrogen receptors, the estrogens can no longer dock to the receptors and thus no longer drive cancer.

Soy is particularly protective of women and non-smokers

Estrogen receptors also play an important role in lung cancer, which is why the protective effect of soy products in relation to lung cancer was examined in a comprehensive meta-analysis in 2011. For this purpose, 11 epidemiological studies on this topic were analyzed.

It turned out that women in particular can benefit from the protective properties of soybeans. Their risk of developing lung cancer fell by 21 percent if they enjoyed eating soy products. Non-smokers had a 38 percent lower risk of lung cancer if they frequently consumed soy. The harmful effects of smoking seem to predominate in smokers, so soy consumption cannot help here. On average, the scientists indicated a 23 percent reduced risk of lung cancer (high soy consumption compared to low soy consumption).

Two years later (2013), the above results were confirmed in Nutrition and Cancer: Although the lung cancer protection from soy consumption was lower in the more recent analysis, it was also said here that non-smokers in particular benefit from soy consumption.

Tofu and soy milk reduces the risk of lung cancer

Interestingly, in the 2011 analysis, only unfermented soy products showed a protective effect against lung cancer (tofu, edamame, and soy milk), but not fermented soy products such as miso and natto. However, previous studies have shown that miso has a protective effect against breast, stomach, and colon cancer.

Since people who like to eat soy generally eat and live healthier, i.e. do more sport and drink less alcohol, it is often said that it is the overall lifestyle that has a protective effect. In many of the studies examined, however, these additional influences were taken into account. Since Asians have a higher soy consumption than Europeans, the former shows more of a protective effect than the latter.

Lung cancer patients live longer if they eat soy

The course of lung cancer also seems more hopeful if those affected have soy products in their diet. In addition, researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tennessee) and the Shanghai Cancer Institute (Shanghai, China), and the National Cancer Institute wrote in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2013 that women with lung cancer lived longer if they were already in the Consumed soy products regularly before their diagnosis.

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