Soy May Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Researchers found molecule suppressed tumor cells in mice

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THURSDAY, May 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A type of molecule contained in soybeans may help reduce the risk of colon cancer, claims a study in the May issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Researchers at Georgia Tech, Emory University and the Karmanos Cancer Institute found soy glucosylceramide (soy GlcCer) reduced the formation and growth of tumor cells in the gastrointestinal tracts of mice.

"Soy is known to have a number of health benefits, including the suppression of cancer. Based on our results, some of this benefit may be due to a group of molecules known as sphingolipids," Georgia Tech researcher Al Merrill said in a prepared statement.

Soy GlcCer is one of many kinds of sphingolipids found in animals and plants. In previous research, Merrill and his colleagues found that milk sphingolipids suppress tumor formation. This new study is the first to show that plant sphingolipids also inhibit cancer.

Along with soybeans, other foods rich in sphingolipids include cheese, eggs and wheat flour.

In this new study, the researchers found massive amounts of soy GlcCer weren't required to achieve an anticancer effect. The amounts of soy GlcCer effective in suppressing cancer in the mice were similar to those naturally found in soybeans.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about soy.

SOURCE: Georgia Institute of Technology, news release, May 2004

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