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Childhood Soy Intake May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Those with highest intake of soy have significantly decreased breast cancer risk

WEDNESDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- In Asian American women, high soy intake during childhood is associated with a significantly decreased breast cancer risk in adulthood, according to the results of a study published online March 24 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Larissa A. Korde, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues studied dietary practices in 597 breast cancer patients aged 20 to 55 of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino descent, and 966 controls. In subjects whose mothers lived in the United States, they also interviewed the mothers of 99 cases and 156 controls.

Compared to women in the lowest tertile for soy intake, the researchers found that those in the highest tertile for soy intake during childhood, adolescence and adulthood had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer (relative risks, 0.40, 0.80 and 0.76, respectively). They also found that the adoption of a more westernized diet attenuated the relationship between adolescent and adult soy intake and breast cancer, but not the relationship with childhood soy intake.

"Our epidemiologic analysis is the first to clearly support a role for childhood soy intake in the etiology of breast cancer," the authors conclude. "Although the results of our single study are not sufficiently robust to serve as the basis for individual dietary modification or public health policy, they suggest the need for a paradigm shift: for the careful examination of the role of childhood exposures in determining breast cancer risk through in vitro, animal, and appropriately designed epidemiologic studies."

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