As a women who has a high risk for breast cancer, I’ve heard I shouldn’t eat soy. Or that I should eat soy. Or that I can eat soy, but only in moderation. Or that I should only eat fermented soy products.
As a plant eater and quasi-vegetarian, soy and soy products are great sources of protein. Not to mention I like soy products. I drink soy milk in my occasional teechino, I have a love affair with miso soup, and wheat free tamari is a staple in my pantry.
The argument against soy consumption is based on the fact that soy has phytoestrogrens which can mimic estrogen in the body. Since many breast cancers thrive on estrogen, logic dictates that avoiding soy is best, especially for high risk women. I get it – and that makes sense. But after some intense due diligence, I still eat soy products – and here’s why:
1. Soy has only been proven harmful in the lab
In real life, it seems to reduce breast cancer risk. This study from China and this one from the Unites States actually see a drop in breast cancer and recurrence correlated with an increased intake of soy.
2. My soy is organic (non-GMO)
There’s no doubt in my mind, GMO’s are dangerous. Look what happened to these rats who were fed GMO corn. Over 90% of our country’s soy supply are from genetically modified soybeans and none of the studies I’ve encountered have tested genetically modified soy versus natural soy. So I avoid GMO soy, and all my miso, tamari, and tofu are organic and therefore GMO free.
3. I don’t eat it like it’s going out of style
Soy has not taken over my kitchen – I’m not eating blocks of tofu or downing tall glasses of soy milk. I also avoid processed food which uses soy as fillers, additives, and emulsifiers. So the occasional tofu caprese doesn’t get me all worried.
Now, I am not a doctor, and my understanding of how soy can affect one’s risk of breast cancer is limited to my MIT biology class. But here’s how I see it: the science isn’t all there, and even if it was, science doesn’t have all the answers. We used to think lead paint and asbestos were safe. It was once commonly accepted that the world was flat. That the earth was the center of the universe. That pluto was a planet (although I’m still holding on to that one – and I have a diorama to prove it). The point is, we need to make do with what we know, and make our own conclusions. And mine is to accept some tofu in my life. And I’m happier and healthier for it.